Monday, September 3, 2007

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket; drama/ war, UK/ USA, 1987; D: Stanley Kubrick, S: Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood, Arliss Howard

Joker, a young lad planing to become a writer, becomes a recruit at the Marines. His Sargent is the sadistic Hartman, who pulls their training towards absurd: he calls them girls, demands from them to sleep with their guns in bed, punishes them...The overweight Pyle can't hold out the drill anymore so he takes a gun and kills Hartman and himself in the toilette...Vietnam. Joker became a correspondent and goes to his first assignment on the battle ground. There he realizes the training was useless since the war is a completely different madness for itself. When he gets lost with his unit, they get attacked by a sniper - when they eliminate him, they discover it was a woman. The unit leaves towards the horizon.

Without compromise does Stanley Kubrick confront in hist penultimate film fanatic militarism, showing the whole training as a sadistic child's play. Nominated for an Oscar, the screenplay splits the story into two halves. In the first half, it's excellently, sharply portrays the training of the recruits that gets even more impressive thanks to the crystal clear cinematography, while R. Lee Ermey - nominated for a Golden Globe as best supporting actor - is chosen well as the strict Sargent Hartman who is full of cynicism: he claims "God is happy when Marines kill the enemy", punishes everyone else when Pyle hides a donut and speaks dark statements like this one: "At my place, there will be no division by race, color, religion or nationality. For me, you're all equally worthless!" The story neatly displays the whole training as a exercise in dominance, some of the moments are almost unbearably painful and when one of the recruits looses his sanity - foreshadowed in his typical Kubrick frenzy stare - he shoots himself and Hartman. But the second half is vague and incomplete. Kubrick decided to chaotically display the Vietnam war while the main hero Joker (solid Matthew Modine) wasn't developed with a special spark. Scenes like the one where some cameramen are filming soldiers going into combat seem as if they were stolen from Coppola's "Apocalypse", and the "hell" of the battle ground was reduced just to a hunt for a (female) sniper. "Full Metal Jacket" is an ambitious and serious work, sadly overshadowed by Stone's "Platoon" released a year earlier, but it seems more like an exercise in style and cold, shallow characters than a real work of inspiration and a point.


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