20 things you (probably) didn't know about Full Metal Jacket
After scaring the life out of us with The Shining, Stanley Kubrick effortlessly switched genres with Full Metal Jacket, a visceral drama that challenged Apocalypse Now for the title of 'Best Vietnam War Movie Ever Made'.
Here's a list of 20 things you probably didn't know about the movie.
This is my article. There are many like it but this one is mine...
The movie is based on Gustav Hasford's book The Short Timers. Hasford (pictured) started working on it while serving in Vietnam, and based many of the characters (and names) on soldiers he served with.
The book is divided into three sections, written in completely different styles of prose. The first section of the novel, "The Spirit of the Bayonet", is faithfully reproduced in the movie. There are only minor differences of events and names. The most profound difference is that, in the book, when Pyle kills Gunny, Gunny tells Pyle "I'm proud [of you]" before being killed, finally assured that he transformed Pyle into a killer.
Vincent D'Onofrio (Pyle) owes Matthew Modine (Joker) for landing the part. D'Onofrio was a bouncer and theatre actor working at the Hard Rock Cafe when his pal, Modine, walked past and they got chatting. Modine revealed he was doing the movie and that there was a part available. D'Onofrio had never seen himself as a movie actor, but went for it and got it. D'Onofrio also spent time working as a bodyguard for Robert Plant and Yul Brynner prior to his movie break.
Kubrick personally asked D'Onofrio to gain weight for the movie. D'Onofrio piled on 30lbs. When the director saw him he just said D'Onofrio looked like he "could kick everyone's ass" and told him to put more on. Eventually D'Onofrio put on 80lbs breaking Robert De Niro's movie weight-gain record of 60lbs for Raging Bull. It took him seven months to put the weight on and nine months to take it off. He tore ligaments in his knee on the obstacle course, due to the extra weight.
Retired United States Marine Corps Staff Sergeant and technical advisor on the movie, R. Lee Ermey, told Kubrick he'd like to play the drill instructor. He performed a demonstration on videotape in which he yelled obscene insults for 15 minutes without stopping, repeating himself or even flinching - despite being continuously pelted with tennis balls and oranges. Stanley Kubrick was so impressed that he cast Ermey as Hartman.
Before giving the role to Ermey, Kubrick had cast a comedian called Tim Colceri in the role of the drill instructor. Colceri had to settle with playing this gunman at the helicopter door, a scene that didn't come from The Short-Timers, but rather Associate Producer Michael Herr's 1977 book Dispatches.
The entire movie was shot in England with some scenes of the ruined city of Hue shot at a dockyard on the Isle of Dogs, London, that was scheduled for demolition. The ruins of Hue in the sniper and final nighttime scenes were shot at the Beckton Gasworks in London's East End, (pictured). Researchers painstakingly went through dozens of shots of the real Hue in order to make sure Beckton looked authentic, and 200 palm trees were brought into the area to create a tropical effect.
As with all Kubrick movies, Full Metal Jacket took many months to shoot. Well over a year. Adam Baldwin (Animal Mother) was originally supposed to do principal photography for three months. He ended up doing it for nine. Hell, it took them a month to get over this wall (pictured) in the death of Doc and Eightball scene. Literally, from the moment they arrive at the wall to the moment they got over it, took 30 days of filming.
The jelly doughnut scene took 37 takes. That's all there is to say about that.
At one stage Baldwin (pictured) got somewhat tired of the constant retakes. Having done a take for a scene, Kubrick asked them to do it again for the umpteenth time, to which Baldwin murmured "Oh man, what does this guy want from us?" Without missing a beat Kubrick called out "How about better acting?"
Animal Mother carries a machete on his back throughout the movie because, in the original script, he cuts the head off the sniper once they've killed her. It didn't make it into the film because of its brutality.
Kubrick told Dorian Harewood, who played Eightball, that he made Full Metal Jacket as "his answer to Rambo" to show what war's really like.
In the book we find out that Rafterman's nickname comes from an incident at an enlisted men's club in which he climbed up into the rafters for a better view of the stage, then fell onto the table of a visiting general. In the book he's also killed, run over by a tank, cutting him in half.
The director received over 3,000 videotape auditions. His staff screened all of the tapes and eliminated the unacceptable ones leaving 800 tapes for Kubrick to personally review.
Anthony Michael Hall of Breakfast Club fame was originally set to play Pvt. Joker. Hall spent eight months preparing for the role but could not reach an agreement with Kubrick regarding salary and schedule. Kubrick also offered Bruce Willis a role, but Willis had to turn down the opportunity because of the impending start of filming on the first six episodes of Moonlighting.
To ensure that the actors' reactions to Ermey were as authentic and genuine as possible, Ermey and the recruits would not rehearse together.
Cowboy's death scene shows a building in the background that resembles the famous alien monolith in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick described the resemblance as an "extraordinary accident."
Ermey was involved in a jeep accident during the making of the movie, skidding off the road and breaking all the ribs on his left side. He refused to pass out, and kept flashing his car lights until a motorist stopped. In some scenes you'll notice that he does not move his left arm at all. Kubrick claimed in an interview that it took four and a half months before Ermey could return to work in which production simply had to be suspended since he was involved in all the remaining scenes.
Denzel Washington was considered for the role of Eightball and has said that it is a role that he regrets missing out on. Arnold Schwarzenegger turned down the role of Animal Mother in order to star in The Running Man.
The Vietnam sequences of the film were shot first, the Parris Island training scenes second. The graduation of the recruits was the last scene shot.
Film / Full Metal Jacket
Goodbye, my sweetheart. Hello, Vietnam...
"These are great days we're living, bros. We are jolly green giants, walking the earth with guns. These people we wasted here today are the finest human beings we will ever know. After we rotate back to the world, we're gonna miss not having anyone around that's worth shooting."
Full Metal Jacket (1987) is the story of The Vietnam War as seen through the eyes of a U.S. Marine known to the audience as "Joker".
The film, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is split into two parts. The first part follows James T. "Joker" Davis (Matthew Modine) alongside his fellow Marine recruits through boot camp as they suffer under the colorful Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey), and the second part follows Joker's struggle to keep his humanity while he covers the Vietnam War as a combat correspondent during the Tet Offensive of 1968.
The film is based on the semi-autobiographical novelThe Short-Timers by former Marine Gustav Hasford, published in 1979. However, the script was co-written by Micheal Herr, who incorporated a large amount of his Gonzo Journalism book "Dispatches from the Vietnam War". The result is an odd fusion; the plot is drawn from The Short-Timers, with the first half an extremely faithful adaptation and the second half an amalgamation of events from the second and third stories, while almost all the film's iconic dialog and surreal moments are taken word-for-word from Dispatches.
The title refers to the type of ammunition used by military rifles. A full metal jacket is a copper coating on the outside of a bullet that prevents it from deforming or breaking apart on impact (as well as keeping it from slowly filling the rifling with lead), as is required per the Hague Convention. According to the highest moral authority on the planet, it is acceptable to shoot people with these bullets (as opposed to bullets which are designed to deform or splinter when they hit their targets, such as the hollow point or Dum-Dum round, which generally makes for a much nastier wound). This is referred to at the end of the first half of the story.
This is the only major Vietnam War film that focuses on urban warfare rather than the jungle.
Definitely not to be confused with Fullmetal Alchemist or Full Metal Panic!note Though the spin-off of the latter, Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu does make references to this film.
"These are my tropes! There are many like them but these ones are mine!"
- A-Team Firing: Sort of in the sniper scene. When Eightball is shot, the group starts shooting at the two front buildings. Then Doc Jay goes to recover him and gets shot too. Then when Animal Mother reaches them, he realizes that there's only a lone sniper, far back in a distant building, and that they've wasted bullets shooting at literally nothing.. Justified as it's meant as suppression fire.
- Acoustic License: The scene in the helicopter where Joker is interviewing a door gunner as he strafes the countryside. Everyone can hear each other as long as they SHOUT.
- Agonizing Stomach Wound: A Vietnamese sniper intentionally shoots an American solider in the groin with the intention of drawing the other soldiers in the unit into the open as they try to prevent the wounded soldier from slowly dying.
- The All-Solving Hammer: At first Hartman calmly tells Pyle to place the weapon on the deck and step away. When Pyle doesn't comply, Hartman reverts to his default method of persuasion. The fact that Hartman's solution to a clearly deranged recruit pointing a loaded rifle at him is to insult him seems to imply that he had gotten it in his head that he could solve any problem by yelling at it. Partially Truth in Television; while this is standard procedure in the military, and while it's taught that nine times out of ten a show of strong force will cause a person to back down, there is a world of difference between a show of force and needlessly insulting and antagonizing a seriously disturbed man with a loaded rifle. Someone having a massive mental breakdown with a loaded rifle is not what standard procedure is designed for.
- A bit of Fridge Brilliance for those that have been through training and understand the thought process. Hartman's attempts at resolving the situation with gentleness are obviously failing, so he attempted to use the conditioning to immediately follow orders that basic training is meant to instill. Sometimes, thinking can be the worst thing that you can do when your life is at stake, especially when the one giving orders has already likely done all the thinking you'd have done for you.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Marine base at Da Nang comes under attack by the NVA as the Tet Offensive begins. The invasion is easily repelled, but this an exception in the middle of a general offensive all over the country.
- Arc Words: The line "In a world of shit" is mentioned four times.
- Armchair Military / Marines at the Rear
- Lt. Lockhart, Joker's "Stars and Stripes" CO.
Joker: Sir, maybe you should go out on some ops yourself. I'm sure you could find a lot more blood trails and drag marks.
Lockhart: Joker, I've had my ass in the grass. Can't say I liked it much. Lots of bugs and too dangerous. As it happens, my present duties keep me where I belong; in the rear with the gear.
- When he's introduced, Rafterman is shown lamenting having to be this.
Rafterman: I hate Da Nang, Joker. I want to go out into the field. I've been in country almost three months, and all I do is take handshake shots at award ceremonies.
- Lt. Lockhart, Joker's "Stars and Stripes" CO.
- Artistic License History: In-universe: Hartman claims that the infamous spree killer Charles Whitman gained his marksmanship skills from Marine training, when Charles was actually a crack shot before he was a teenager. Note this could be intentional by the screenwriter, as Hartman invoking a skewed narrative or simply being misinformed. (That being said, his time in the Marines certainly didn't make Whitman a worse marksman.)
- Artistic License Military:
- As Senior Drill Instructor, Hartman should normally give the speeches to the entire recruit platoon while the two Junior Drill Instructors (the war dogs) handle yelling at individual recruits. The Senior DI only gets in a recruit's face if that recruit has seriously fucked up (and God help you if you've messed up so bad that you're sent to the training Officer). The Junior Drill Instructors can frequently be seen in the background, but they have no lines. Had they been more prominent in the opening, they would have been yelling at the recruits for random things while expecting them to listen to Hartman's speech and would have caught someone mouthing off instantly by the sheer number of people observing the recruits.
- The Marine Corps Rifleman's Creed that the recruits recite before lights out is an abridged version of the real one.
- R. Lee Ermey, formerly a real-life Drill Sergeant Nasty, once said in an interview, that while drill instructors frequently struck recruits (something he states was never officially condoned by the Marine Corps), it was done more as a quick attention-getting device rather than something used to humiliate a recruit. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman is also far more verbally abusive in the movie than what is or was permitted in real life; he once noted that had he done anything as bad as Hartman and his C.O. found out about it, he would have been court-martialed and convicted in short order.
- In the book, Sergeant Gerheim (as he was known) isn't nearly as vulgar, but calls people into his office or the showers to beat them in private. He encourages other punishments — some worse — or orders the other recruits to perform them. Ermey, in an interview, once recalled one of the punishments from the book (the DI nearly drowning Pyle in a toilet other recruits had urinated in) and pointed out that any DI who ever tried something like what Gerheim did would never have been able to command respect among his recruits again.
- Drill Instructors/Drill Sergeants are trained to watch out for recruits who show signs of mental instability, and Private Pyle showed plenty of signs. In real life, he would have been removed from training and given a quiet psychiatric discharge long before he ever reached the point of murder-suicide.
- In The Short-Timers, the senior drill instructor actually intimidates other recruits to keep quiet about Pyle; the platoon has already lost several other members, and losing Pyle as well will invite unwanted attention from higher in the chain of command.
- Marines saluting officers out in the war zone. This is a big no-no in real life, as it identifies the officers and makes them big, convincing targets for snipers.note In a different scene in the book, Joker lampshades this: "I have just identified him as an officer to any VC sniper watching" Also in the scene with Joker explaining his "Born to Kill" graffito, the officer is the one who (just barely, but still) initiates the salute: the junior ranking soldier always salutes first, in every branch.
- In real life it would be practically impossible to smuggle a single live round out of the firing range, never mind enough of them to fill a magazine. When you go to the range, you are given a set number of rounds, and someone will be standing by you to make sure you load and fire all of them. If there's any discrepancy at the end of the session, you can expect to be searched from head to toe until those missing rounds turn up. Same with smuggling a rifle out of the Arms Room; there is strict accountability for every weapon on site, and they are only given out for operations, training or maintenance. But seeing as the most iconic scene in the whole film would never have happened, this is forgivable.
- The VC sniper uses a Czech vz.58note commonly mistaken for an AK assault rifle. While these rifles were indeed used by both Viet Cong and the NVA, a bolt-action rifle (such as a Mosin-Nagant) would have been a more likely choice for a sharpshooter.
- Asian Hooker Stereotype: This movie is a famous example, arguably the Trope Codifier, with its infamous line "Me so horny. Me love you long time. Me sucky sucky."
- Asian Speekee Engrish: Likewise, "Me Love You Long Time."
- Asshole Victim: As much as Sgt. Hartman having to do his job (as mentioned above), it may be hard to feel sorry for him when he gets killed by Private Pyle.
- Ate His Gun: Private Pyle, moments after killing Hartman, turns his rifle on himself, firing through his lips.
- Badass Boast:
- "God has a hard-on for Marines because we kill everything we see! He plays His games, we play ours! To show our appreciation for so much power, we keep heaven packed with fresh souls!"
- The Door Gunner also thinks his deeds are something to brag about.
Door Gunner: You guys ought to do a story about me sometime [...] cause I'm so fucking good! That ain't no shit, neither. I've done got me 157 dead gooks killed and 50 water buffaloes, too! Them are all certified.
- Banging Pots and Pans: Hartman's favorite way to wake up the recruits each morning is by pounding on a metal trash can with a baton.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Or rather having a blanket party thrown on you makes you evil.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Pvt. Pyle after murdering Hartmann; He almost certainly realized he'd be court-martialed and executed for his actions, and instead decided to end it all right on the spot with a bullet to the mouth.
- Big Damn Heroes: Rafterman shooting the VC sniper when the sniper has Joker pinned.
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: Inverted. A Vietnamese prostitute does not want to have sex with 8-Ball, a black Marine, at first because she assumes he's "too beaucoup." , and thus "no boom-boom with soul brother". 8-Ball has to whip out his "Alabama blacksnake" and show it to her to convince her that it's not "too beaucoup."
- Big "NO!": Joker lets one out right before Pyle commits suicide.
- Bittersweet Ending: On the one hand the war ain't over yet, and Joker's got a whole lot more hell in store for him, he's in a world of shit, but he's not afraid and he's happy to be alive. On the other hand hes just shot a mortally wounded child soldier in the head after she begged him to put her out of her misery, and watched his best friend get shot in the back and killed. Even though he states that he is glad to be alive, marching away through the smoke with his comrades and singing the Mickey Mouse Club theme song, it is apparent that he is a profoundly changed man, and will never be the same.
- Black-and-Gray Morality: The portrayal of Americans in Vietnam is hardly idealized to say the least, but the mass grave and description of what the VC and NVA have already been doing to civilians in Hue City shows that they're not the "good guys" by any means, either.
- Black Comedy: Plenty of Comedic Sociopathy remarks from the Marines.
Joker: I wanted to see exotic Vietnam... the jewel of Southeast Asia. I wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture... and kill them. I wanted to be the first kid on my block to get a confirmed kill!
- Black Comedy Rape: Male on female. Not actual rape but a joke about it. While in the barracks, Stork, a white Marine jokes with Payback, a black Marine, "How do you stop five black men from raping a white woman?" Answer: "Throw them a basketball."
- Black Dude Dies First: Corporal Eightball is the one sent to do recon and the first to be gunned down by the sniper. He's helplessly aware of the trope.
"Put a nigger behind the trigger."
- Black Is Bigger in Bed: "No boom-boom with soul brother". At one point, a hooker initially refuses to sleep with an African-American man because of his so-called "Alabama blacksnake". 8-ball has to graphically debunk it.
- Blood Knight: Joker claims that he joined the Corps to be a killer. However, he's probably being sarcastic, since he's a military journalist, and when he has to perform a Mercy Kill, he finds it very hard. Straighter examples in Animal Mother and Crazy Earl.
Crazy Earl: I will never forget this day. The day I came to Hue City and fought one million N.V.A. gooks. I love the little Commie bastards, man, I really do. These enemy grunts are as hard as slant-eyed drill instructors. These are great days we're living, bros! We are jolly green giants, walking the earth with guns. These people we wasted here today... are the finest human beings we will ever know. After we rotate back to the world, we're gonna miss not having anyone around that's worth shooting.
- Booby Trap: An extremely dastardly one, to boot. A stuffed rabbit attached to a hidden antipersonnel mine, the sort of thing that was all too common in the real war.
- Break the Cutie: Private Gomer Pyle gets it worse than the rest of the recruits due to being overweight and mentally slow, most of it at the hands of the original Drill Sergeant Nasty. The worst of it comes when the other recruits, pissed off after the entire platoon was punished due to Hartman finding a jelly doughnut in Pyle's foot locker, throw him a blanket party by pinning him to his bunk with a blanket and beating the crap out of him with bars of soap wrapped in bath towels. All this eventually leads to his psychotic breakdown, his murder of Hartman and his ultimate suicide.
- Brick Joke:
- In a meeting with his fellow "Stars and Stripes" personnel, Joker and the other Marines are being informed by their CO, Lt. Lockhart, of upcoming events, one of which is a USO visit by actress, Ann-Margret. A few scenes later, after being informed by Lt. Lockhart about the Tet offensive by the NVA and how bad the situation is, Joker, asks, after a few moments of silence, "Sir, does this mean that Ann-Margret's not coming?"
- Unfortunately for Joker, this quip pisses off the LT enough that he reaches his breaking point and immediately ships Joker off to a combat zone.
- The whole bit about Joker wanting to bang Cowboy's sister. It's the first thing they reminisce about when they reunite in Vietnam.
- In a meeting with his fellow "Stars and Stripes" personnel, Joker and the other Marines are being informed by their CO, Lt. Lockhart, of upcoming events, one of which is a USO visit by actress, Ann-Margret. A few scenes later, after being informed by Lt. Lockhart about the Tet offensive by the NVA and how bad the situation is, Joker, asks, after a few moments of silence, "Sir, does this mean that Ann-Margret's not coming?"
- Broken Record: "Shoot...me... shoot...me..."
- Call-Back: Several:
- Joker references actor John Wayne during both segments. First in the boot camp segment, in his very first line in the film, when he says out loud and in Wayne's voice, after Gunny Hartman's opening speech, "Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?". He repeats the line later during the Vietnam segment, while the Marines are being filmed while going into Hue to take the city back from the NVA.
- "A world of shit". Gunny Hartman first tells the recruits during marksmanship training that this is what they will be in if they hesitate in combat. It's referred to at the end of both of segments. At the end of the boot camp segment, Joker, after, finding the crazy Leonard in the head with his rifle, tell him that if Hartman catches them, they'll "both be in a world of shit" to which Leonard replies, "I AM...in a world...of shit." At the end of the Vietnam segment, Joker says, during his closing narration, "I am in a world of shit."
- Gunny Hartman said to the recruits when they got their rifles: "You will give your rifle a girl's name! Because this is the only pussy you people are going to get! Your days of finger-banging old Mary Jane Rottencrotch through her purty pink panties are over!" In the closing narration, Joker says: "My thoughts drift back to erect nipple wet dreams about Mary Jane Rottencrotch and the Great Homecoming Fuck Fantasy."
- The Real Life Marine Corps Rifleman's Creed. An abridged version is first said by the recruits in unison as they're lying in bed before lights out. It's later repeated partially and very loudly by Leonard after he snaps and is in the head with his rifle.
- Mickey Mouse is referred to at the end of both segments. At the end of the boot camp segment, Gunny Hartman yells "What is this Mickey Mouse shit." At the end of the Vietnam segment, the Marines are singing the theme song to The Mickey Mouse Club as they march away from the burning city of Hue. Also a Freeze-Frame Bonus: look toward the background of Lt. Lockhart's office at the right time and guess what you'll see? Figurines of Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
- Probably the darkest call back of the whole movie. Joker gets heckled for claiming he's seen combat when the veterans listen to his badass boasts. Payback calls B.S. on him because he doesn't have the thousand-yard-stare. Much later, in the last moments of the movie, Joker wills himself to finish off a teenage sniper... and as the tension and shock from pulling the trigger wears off, he's transfixed with a thousand-yard-stare of his own.
- Camp Follower: There are two scenes in the movie focused on prostitution.
- Cargo Ship: In-universe example. Gunny Hartman orders the recruits to give their rifle a girl's name "Because this is the only pussy you people are going to get!" Private Pyle, after he goes insane, seems more than a little doting over his rifle (Charlene, if you were wondering).
- Cassandra Truth: After the Hue sniper kills Eightball and Doc Jay, Cowboy tells the squad they need to cut their losses and move out, because this setup is a trap and it's going to get more of them killed if they fall for it. He's right... and he's the only one subsequently killed.
- Central Theme: The de-humanizing effects of war.
- Chekhov's Skill: Pvt. Pyle manages to smuggle a jelly doughnut into the squad bay. While it's probably not entirely accurate to say that this would be impossible, it would be very, very hard to do. Later in the movie, he presumably uses the same skill to sneak in enough live ammo to fill a rifle magazine.
- Child Soldier: The Viet Cong sniper, who is also a girl. Definitely the "Just Plain Tragic" type.
- Chewing the Scenery: "Hiiiiiiii...Jooooooookerrrrrrrr..." The entire scene in the bathroom is full of this, capped off with Pyle at his hammiest executing rifle drills and loudly belting out the Rifleman's Creed.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Crazy Earl.
- Cluster F-Bomb: The scene introducing Gunny Hartman. To be blunt, the whole movie is peppered with these, but it's fully justified in that these are Marines.
- Cold Sniper: The Viet Cong sniper at the end of the movie.
- Comically Missing the Point:
Joker: How can you shoot women and children?
Door gunner: Easy. You just don't lead 'em so much.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: When Hartman catches Pyle with a stolen jelly donut, he institutes a new rule — Pyle's screw-ups will draw punishment for everyone in the platoon except him. First he has to stand there and eat the donut while the other recruits do push-ups. Later, he sits with his cover on backwards and his thumb in his mouth as the others do burpees. They eventually respond by pinning him to his bunk and beating him with bars of soap).
- Cool Gun: Animal Mother with his M60 and bandoliers. In spades. T.H.E. Rock would also qualify with his grenade launcher.
- Coup de Grâce: Joker gives one to the teenage VC sniper after the rest of the squad gives him an ultimatum — either he finishes her off, or they leave her to die.
- Creator Cameo: Stanley Kubrick is Murph, the voice on the other end of the radio when Joker's squad calls for tank support.
- Cruel Mercy: After confiscating a jelly donut from Pyle's footlocker, Hartman comes to the conclusion that punishing Pyle for his failures is accomplishing nothing. Therefore, he will no longer punish Pyle when he fucks up... the rest of the platoon will be punished instead, hopefully motivating him to do better.
- Curbstomp Battle: The NVA's unsuccessful attempt at overrunning the Marines' Da Nang base.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Hartman makes threats like: "I will unscrew your head and shit down your neck!" and "I will gouge out your eyeballs and skullfuck you!" and "I will PT you all so hard, your asses will be sucking buttermilk!"
- A Date with Rosie Palms: How Hand Job got his nickname.
Cowboy: Tough break for Hand Job. He was all set to get shipped out on a medical.
Joker: What was the matter with him?
Cowboy: He was jerkin' off ten times a day.
Eightball: No shit. At least ten times a day.
Cowboy: Last week he was sent down to Da Nang to see the Navy head shrinker, and the crazy fucker starts jerking off in the waiting room. Instant Section Eight. He was just waiting for his papers to clear division.
- Dead Guy on Display: The Hotel company keeps a dead Vietnamese soldier resting with them. They are otherwise respectful towards him, as he is considered a Worthy Adversary.
- Deadly Euphemism: Openly admitted to by Lt. Lockhart when he tells one of the "Stars and Stripes" Marines to substitute the phrase "Search and Destroy" with "Sweep and Clear".
- Death by Irony:
- Gunny Hartman. More emphasis on this in the book than in the movie. In the book, when he gets shot, before he dies, he says " Private Pyle, I'm so proud." (He's glad that was finally able to make him a killer, which he had been struggling to do all through boot camp.)
- Hand Jobhad just qualified for a Section 8. Too bad the papers didn't get processed sooner.
- Deconstruction: The first half of the Vietnam segment is filmed in a deliberately flashy Hollywood style, with heroic and badass American soldiers taking out hordes of Vietcong with surprising ease. This is explicitly pointed out by a U.S. soldier who says "This is Vietnam: The Movie!" to a cameraman, and later Joker's unit are shown lounging on a bunch of seats pulled out of a cinema. When they "exit" through the cinema door into the real war, the film takes a much more realistic and chilling tone, the soldiers are much less invincible, and the single Cold Sniper they're going up against turns out to be a Child Soldier.
- Deep South: Invoked by Gunny Hartman when he gives Cowboy his nickname, saying "Only steers and queers come from Texas."note AND YOU DON'T LOOK LIKE A STEER TO ME, SO THAT KINDA NARROWS IT DOWN!
- Deliberate Values Dissonance:
- In the 1960s it was acceptable for Drill Sergeants to strike recruits, but no longer.
- Same goes for the infamous "This is my rifle, this is my gun. This is for fighting, this is for fun."
- Also applies to the "Eskimo pussy is mighty cold" cadence that the recruits chant while running. In general, this was a lot more common before women were integrated into the US military in the 1970's. The military was allowed to get away with chanting cadences that had more sexual references or sex-related humor in them.
- There's also the way Black marines were treated, the open usage of the N-word and gook, and the Confederate flag painted on Cowboy's helmet.
- Despair Event Horizon: Private Pyle
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Cowboy dies in Joker's arms.
- Dies Wide Open: Cowboy.
- The Ditz: Pyle.
- Don't Celebrate Just Yet: The night past the graduation, Pyle kills Hartman and himself.
- Dub Name Change:
- The German dub changed Private Pyle's nickname to "Private Paula", replacing the insult of being an incompetent Marine (as Gomer Pyle was on The Andy Griffith Show) with one of being a woman. "Private Snowball" became "Private Scheewittchen", which means "Private Snow White," keeping the Ironic Nicknameand adding the additional insult of being like a fairy princess.
- The French dub changes "Private Snowball" into "Engagé Blanche-Neige" ("Private Snow White", again). "Gomer Pyle"/"Private Pyle" becomes "Grosse Baleine" ("Fat Whale") and "Engagé Baleine" ("Private Whale"). Animal Mother becomes "Brute Epaisse" ("Dumb Brute").
- Empathy Doll Shot: Subverted. One of the Marines finds an oversized stuffed rabbit lying in the rubble of Hue, and picks it up out of confusion. It's attached to an antipersonnel mine. Boom.
- Et Tu, Brute?: During the "blanket party," what really hurts Pyle the most was Joker, whom Pyle looked up to for helping him get his act together, taking extra swings after the other recruits went back to their bunks.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: The Time Skip after boot camp is illustrated by Joker sporting a full head of relatively wild hair.
- "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Namely, Hartman staring down the barrel of a loaded M-14 being held by a visibly deranged recruit that had just that day gotten word that he made it through to proper infantry. He may have thought "Private Pyle" wasn't going to shoot at all, or that yelling him down would work as it always had, but either you are officially insane - a Section 8, have a death wish, or have to have a set in order to look your potential murderer in the eye and scream in a rage "WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR MALFUNCTION, NUMBNUTS?!DIDN'T MOMMY AND DADDY SHOW YOU ENOUGH ATTENTION WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD?!?!"
- False Dichotomy: Only two things come from Texas...
- The Film of the Book: Based on the novel, "The Short Timers" by Gustav Hasford.
- Flowery Insults: Hartman's whole shtick.
- Foreshadowing: Hartman gloats about the Marine-taught shooting prowess of university-shooter Charles Whitman and Lee Harvey Oswald before Leonard "Pyle" Lawrence becomes a sociopathic murderer himself, under (and perhaps because of) Hartman's own tutelage.
- Freudian Excuse: Invoked by Gunny Hartman to Leonard/Pyle. Doubles as last words, as Leonard kills him after.
Hartman: What is your major malfunction, numbnuts? Didn't mommy and daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?
- The Generic Guy: Doc Jay, Donlon and Rock.
- Gone Horribly Right: Hartman's goal is to turn the new recruits into remorseless killing machines. In Pyle's case, he succeeds all too well.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Averted for the most part, it's a Kubrick film, but played straight with The Sniper's death.
- Graduation for Everyone: Pyle included though he does not live a full day longer.
- Halfway Plot Switch: Joker and Cowboy are the only things connecting the boot camp plotline to the Vietnam plotline.
- Hand Gun: Joker pulls out his sidearm, a M1911 when confronting the sniper after finding out his M16 is out of ammo. Later uses it to finish her off.
- Happy Birthday to You!: Hartman orders his recruits to sing the song for Christmas.
- Hate Sink:
- Gunnery Sergeant Hartman was specifically played by ex-drill sergeant R. Lee Ermey as a bully who sucks at his job. Hartman spends his time berating his recruits more than instructing them, eventually latching onto one who's clearly out of his element. Nicknaming him after a dimwit from a popular TV show, Hartman proceeds to encourage the rest of his trainees to mistreat the poor guy in an attempt to break his mind.
- The door gunner is a sociopathic sadist who enjoys warfare far more than he should. While transporting Joker to his destination, he picks off every Vietnamese person he sees, soldier or civilian, with a smile on his face. claiming they're all the enemy whether it's true or not. His last line is him jokingly asking "Ain't war hell?," despite clearly loving it.
- Height Insult: During Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann's memetic Drill Sergeant Nasty moment, one recruit is asked for his height:
Recruit: Sir! Five foot nine sir!
Hartmann: Five foot nine, I didn't know they stacked shit that high!
- Hollywood Fire: Inside the building where the sniper hides out, the fire spots are evenly spread out and burn steadily with no smoke emerging.
- Hope Spot: Leonard actually starts improving as a marine when Hartman puts him under the tutelage of Joker. Then Hartman finds that jelly donut in Leonard's footlocker and it all goes seriously downhill from there...
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: The second Vietnamese prostitute is a petite young woman (Cowboy greets her with "Good morning, little schoolgirl!") Next to Animal Mother (played by the 6'4 tall Adam Baldwin), she looks like a child.
- Hypocritical Humor: Hartman says there's no place for racial discrimination in the Marines before launching into a stream of racial slurs.
- I Call It "Vera": Enforced by GySgt Hartman, taken very seriously by Pvt. Pyle.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: The sniper, who gets mortally wounded - perhaps paralyzed - in the firefight with Rafterman
- I Know Mortal Kombat: Joked about by Joker when he meets Animal Mother.
Animal Mother: You seen any combat?
Joker: Seen a little on TV.
- I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: After a routine inspection turns up a stolen jelly doughnut in Pvt. Pyle's footlocker, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman comes to the conclusion that reprimanding Pyle will solve nothing. So he announces to the platoon that from that point on, whenever Pyle screws up, everyone else will have to do P.T. while he just looks at them, in the hopes that this will motivate Pyle into becoming a proper Marine. It works, but probably not in the way Hartman intended.
- Important Haircut: The opening montage is of new recruits with many varied hairstyles, colours, lengths, etc undergoing the ritual head shave of the Marines, emerging with identical buzzcuts.
- Improvised Weapon: When Leonard shows that he's not quite making the cut in boot, even under Joker's tutelage, the recruits each wrap their soap bars into a towel, making what's essentially a low-end blackjack. Cowboy gags Leonard with a pair of socks, a few others hold him down with the help of a blanket, and the rest quickly take turns hitting Leonard, except Joker, who hesitates and then furiously hits Leonard several times. Joker was the one who was trying desperately to get Leonard to get up to snuff, and failed to motivate him to do so.
- Insistent Terminology: "This is my rifle, this is my gun...." Truth in Television.
- Intimidation Demonstration: After a Vietnamese boy steals a camera and tosses it to his friend on a bike, he turns around and starts doing a series of palm strikes in the air and making fierce screams, then does a spin kick. Joker then proceeds to imitate him from a distance...with a single, half-assed jumpkick.
- Ironic Nickname: Hartman gives the nickname "Snowball" to Private Brown, who is black.
- Ironic Nursery Tune: The film ends with the marines marching through burning ruins back to camp while singing the "Mickey Mouse March".
- Irony: Joker wears a peace sign on his shirt, while his helmet says, "Born to Kill." ("I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.")
- Just Plane Wrong: A minor offender the helicopter which transports Joker and Rafter Man to Hue is British built Westland Wessex a licence variant of Sikorsky HUS-1/UH-34 used by the USMC in the war, but powered by turboshaft engines and thus with minor yet visible visual differences.
- Kick the Dog: The Door Gunner is not happy enough killing unarmed civilians, he also goes out of his way to kill their water buffaloes, all of said kills being certified.
- The entire platoon gets one when they torture poor Pyle with the blanket party.
- Kill Him Already!: The discussion over the VC sniper.
- Lead the Target: The door gunner's procedure regarding slower and smaller targets... if you want to shoot women and children, you just don't lead them so much.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
Cowboy: Hey, start the cameras. This is Vietnam: The Movie!
Eightball: Yeah, Joker can be John Wayne. I'll be a horse!
Donlon: T.H.E. Rock can be a rock!
T.H.E. Rock: I'll be Ann-Margret!
Doc Jay: Animal Mother can be a rabid buffalo!
Crazy Earl: I'll be General Custer!
Rafterman: Well, who'll be the Indians?
Animal Mother: Hey, we'll let the gooks play the Indians!
- Leeroy Jenkins: Doc Jay can't be bothered to wait for tank support and runs in to save Eightball from the sniper. A decision that costs his and Cowboy's life. Animal Mother does the same thing, but fares better due to having a bigger gun.
- Malaproper: Lee Harvey Oswald shot "from that book suppository building, sir!"
- Mama Bear: Rafterman's mom, as mentioned by Joker, when Rafterman is lamenting being stuck in the rear.
Rafterman: A high school girl could do my job. I want to get out into the shit. I want to get some trigger time.
Joker: If you get killed, your mom will find me after I rotate back to the world and she'll beat the shit out of me. That's a negative, Rafterman.
- Man Hug: Joker and Cowboy share a rather heartfelt one when they are reunited.
- Meaningful Name / Punny Name: Courtesy of The Nicknamer Sgt. Hartman, some soldiers are Only Known by Their Nickname:
- Private Joker, "a fucking comedian".
- Private Cowboy, from Texas, where "steers and queers" roam the plains.
- Private Eightball, as '8' ball in billiards is all-black.
- Mercy Kill: The VC sniper asks for this. Joker eventually performs it, and the rest of the squad compliment him on his cold-blooded killing, when it was really an act of mercy.
- Misplaced Accent: U.S. Marine "Rafterman" (played by Canadian actor Kevyn Major Howard), has a very noticeable Albertan accent.
- Though it was not unheard of for Canadians to join the US Military and volunteer to go to Vietnam.
- Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: It rates a relatively hard 8, because of the slow-motion blood spurts and the brain-matter-splattering suicide scene.
- Mood Whiplash:
- In-universe, done intentionally by Joker. In a meeting with his fellow "Stars and Stripes" Marines, after being informed by Lt. Lockhart about the Tet offensive by the NVA and how bad the situation is, Joker, asks, after a few moments of silence, "Sir, does this mean that Ann-Margret's not coming?"
- There are numerous mood whiplashes in the film: 1. The opening 34 minutes with the heads being shaved followed by Hartman's rant are somewhat amusing. We could all relate to Pyle's stupid little grin, until he's choked and asked "are you through grinning yet?" He is, and so is the audience. 2. Rounds and rounds of fire being exchanged, cease fire, tense moments of silence...then "Surfin' Bird." by The Trashmen starts. 3. Standing over the body of their dead commander: "you're going home now". "Semper Fi". "We're mean Marines sir". "Better you than me."
- After the horrific Murder-Suicide, the next shot is of the hooker walking to the tune of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'".
- When Joker and Rafterman arrive at the burial site, they press a nearby lieutenant for details. He's clearly annoyed, until they reveal they are reporters for Stars and Stripes. He warms to them at once.
- Taken even further, as he describes the horrific details as he repeatedly cheeses for the pictures.
- More Dakka:
- Animal Mother and his M60.
- The Door Gunner taking potshots at civilians.
- Morton's Fork: Lampshaded and defied when Hartman asks Joker whether he believes in the Virgin Mary. When Joker says no, Hartman slaps him and then asks him again whether he now believes in the Virgin Mary. Joker still answers no, explaining that he believes the drill sergeant will only punish him harder for reversing himself. Hartman responds bypromoting Joker to squad leader, stating that "Private Joker is silly and ignorant, but he's got guts, and guts is enough."
- Mundane Made Awesome: Just about anything Hartman does, but special mention goes to the footlocker scene, where he reacts to the presence of a jelly doughnut ("What is that?"..."What the fuck is that?!"..."WHAT IS THAT, PRIVATE PYLE!?") like he's watching some horrifically Squick-y shock video.
- Murder-Suicide: After Private Pyle kills Sgt. Hartman, he seems to realize that he'll be severely punished, perhaps even executed, for his crime, and shoots himself in the mouth. Or, he's just in a World of Shit and doesn't want to live anymore regardless.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Pyle is Driven to Suicide after he shoots Hartman, realizing what punishments could lie ahead.
- Joker definitively feels pangs of guilt after taking extra swings at Pyle during the "blanket party."
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!:
- After meeting Joker, Hartman sarcastically tells him that "you can come over to my house and fuck my sister." Followed by a punch to Joker's gut.
- Subverted; while cleaning the head (bathroom) Joker says to Cowboy "I wanna slip my tube steak into your sister. What'll you take in trade?" to which Cowboy simply replies "What've you got?" Cowboy later brings it up again in Vietnam when he asks if Joker has been getting any, to which Joker replies, "Only your sister".
- Naïve Newcomer: Rafterman receives a healthy dose of exposition.
- Never Trust a Trailer: Not quite a trailer, but the film was promoted with an official Stupid Statement Dance Mix of the same title which was a big hit in the UK. Not only did it imply the film was more of a knockabout comedy, it was also entirely unrepresentative of the movie's actual soundtrack.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Hartman's overly harsh manner, combined with the marines' abuse of Pyle eventually push him to become a model soldier... only for him to spiral into insanity as they have pushed him past his breaking point, leading to his murder of Hartman and his own death as he commits suicide.
- Nicknaming the Enemy: The Marines casually use the disparaging word "gook" more often than "Vietnamese". The neutral moniker "Charlie" is also used sporadically.
- Noodle Incident: At one point, Pyle is seen walking behind the grunts marching in parade formation, sucking his thumb with his pants around his ankles and holding his rifle by the barrel. Why is never explained (though it was presumably a punishment Hartman meted out on him).
- No One Gets Left Behind: Cowboy actually wants to leave Eightball and Doc Jay behind, realizing that they can't save them anyway, and the sniper is trying to lure the rest of the Marines out. However, Animal Mother refuses to follow his orders.
- Nothing Personal: Discussed by Joker and Rafterman about the South Vietnamese.
Rafterman: You know what really pisses me off about these people?
Rafterman: We're supposed to be helping them, and they shit all over us every chance they get. I just can't feature that.
Joker: Don't take it too hard, Rafterman, it's just business.
- N-Word Privileges: Animal Mother and 8-Ball are Vitriolic Best Buds, with Mother casually tossing around some obscenely-racist insults. Animal Mother becomes almost deranged when 8-Ball is shot and flatly refuses to leave him behind, practically destroying a city block with his M60 in his rescue attempt.
- Obligatory War Crime Scene: The door gunner for the Americans. The mass grave for the Vietcong.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Hartman, upon being informed that Private Pyle has a full magazine, and is locked and loaded.
- Joker as well when he realizes the same.
Joker: "Are those live rounds?"
- Animal Mother, when his attempt to rescue Eightball and Doc Jay leads to their deaths and a near-miss with the sniper.
- Joker, when he tries to shoot the VC sniper in the back, only to hear a click, indicating he's out of ammo and letting the sniper know he's there.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Most of the Marines. Joker, Cowboy, Rafterman, Animal Mother, and 8-Ball. Leonard Lawrence is called by his nickname Gomer Pyle so frequently that it seems like his actual name.
- Only Sane Man: In the Lusthog Squad, Cowboy. Everyone else appears to be just plain insane.
- Parental Incest: Joked about by Cowboy after he meets up with Joker in Vietnam.
Cowboy: Been getting any?
Joker: Only your sister.
Cowboy: Well, better my sister than my mom, though my mom's not bad.
- Pet the Dog: Hartman gives Pyle a genuine compliment as he observes him at the rifle range.
Hartman: Outstanding, Private Pyle. I think we finally found something that you do well!
- There is a cruel subversion earlier on. At one point Hartman sings "Happy Birthday" to the parade, implying that it is a special day for one of the recruits, only he ends it with "Happy Birthday Dear Jesus" and it's Christmas... with no letters or presents, just a mandatory chapel service.
- Physical Fitness Punishment: Hartman punishes the squad for Pyle's failures with physical exercise.
- Pinned Down: By a sniper. The end result isn't pretty.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: All of the soldiers are openly racist.
- Pretty Little Headshots: Averted, at least partially, when Private Pyle shoots himself in the bathroom. While we don't see an exit wound (which could have been on the other side of his head from the camera), there is a lot of blood and some dark solid chunks on the wall behind and above him.
- Propaganda Machine: The Stars and Stripes, which hires Joker.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Pyle does it twice.
- Rated M for Manly: While the movie is a deconstruction of the tribal, primal nature of war and the military with some over-the-top elements that verge on Testosterone Poisoning, there are still plenty of gutsy themes associated with traditional masculinity as well such as hijinks mixed with strength or bravery and vitriolic comradeship.
- A Real Man Is a Killer: An implicit motto of the Corps, which serves to underscore the dehumanization motifs. The recruits stop being pukes and maggots when they become Marines, the Marines want killers, not robots, and a full-fledged Marine only hatches after gaining the Thousand-Yard Stare, often associated with his first kill.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Part of a Drill Sergeant Nasty's job. Most of Gunny Hartman's dialogue is this, but especially his opening speech upon meeting the new recruits.
- Refuge in Audacity: When confronted by Hartman, Joker sticks to his skepticism regarding the Virgin Mary because he (correctly) identifies the situation as a Morton's Fork where he would be punished more if he changes his stance. Hartman is impressed and immediately promotes him to squad leader.
Sgt. Hartman: Private Joker is silly and he's ignorant but he has guts, and guts is enough.
- Reveille: Reveille is featured in the boot camp act.
Hartman: Reveille! Reveille! Reveille! Drop your cocks and grab your socks!
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Animal Mother's hail of gunfire, punctuated by bellicose swearing as he chases after the sniper.
- Rock Beats Laser: The soldiers are told to be the finest warriors the Free World can produce, and they are pinned down by a fourteen-year girl with an assault rifle.
- Sadistic Choice: As a result of the Pinned Down situation described above. Do you watch your friend scream in agony as a sniper continues to riddle his body with bullets, or run out to help him, likely getting yourself killed as well as a result?
- Samus Is a Girl: The sniper.
- Scenery Gorn: The bombed-out city of Hue.
- Schmuck Bait: Crazy Earl falls for a booby-trapped stuffed rabbit in the middle of a wrecked building, and dies when he trips the bomb.
- Screw the War, We're Partying!:
- Whoring and comparing body counts are the most popular hobbies in 'Nam.
- Inverted by the Viet Cong, as they launch the Tet offensive during the Vietnamese New Year to surprise the Americans, who had assumed the party would halt the warring. Joker brings up rumors about a breaking of the cease-fire agreement, but his Lieutenant disregards it.
- Secret Snack Stash: The overweight Private Pyle steals and stashes a jelly donut for him to eat later. Unfortunately, it's discovered by the sarge. He forces Pyle to eat the donut while handing out collective punishment to the rest of the recruits. They later beat Pyle as revenge.
- Secret Test of Character: Hartman asking if Joker believes in the Virgin Mary. See Refuge in Audacity and Morton's Fork for details.
- Semper Fi: Gunny Hartman believes that the Marines are an elite unit of killers. However, the Marines we see in Vietnam are largely disorganized and demotivated, and they aren't very effective against the VC sniper who turns out to be a teenage girl.
- Severed Head Sports: A deleted scene showed soldiers playing soccer with a severed head.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Implied that Lockhart had seen more than his share of combat.
- She's Got Legs: The Da Nang prostitute.
- Shoot Everything That Moves: The door gunner certainly qualifies. "Anyone who runs is a VC! Anyone who stands still is a well-disciplined VC!"
- Lawrence of what? of Arabia? [...] only sailors and faggots are called Lawrence.
- Gomer Pyle is a young character in The Andy Griffith Show, who left to join the Marines in his own spinoff sitcom.
- Joker's fondness of John Wayne. His "pilgrim" imitation comes from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
- The lateral travelling shots where a crew is filming the soldiers is an homage to a similar scene in Apocalypse Now.
- There are several loving homages to the 1957 film The DI, staring Jack Webb.
- Joker name drops Carl Jung, whose psychological theory emphasizes that a healthy man embraces his feminine side. Contrary to that, the film is awash in symbolic (and at the end, very literal) instances of degradation and destruction of the feminine, because according to the Marine Corps, A Real Man Is a Killer.
- Shown Their Work: Except for some minor inaccuracies here and there, the film shows Kubrick's usual meticulousness applied to a military setting, right down to the chants and barracks. It's a testament to the work that even decades after its 1987 release, modern recruits get some savviness about what to expect in training thanks to the film, which is a period piece of the 60s.
- Slasher Smile: Pvt. Pyle sports a reallycreepy one◊ when Joker finds him in the head with his rifle.
- Slow-Motion Fall: This happens several times, most notably caused by the Viet Cong sniper as well as by Leonard shooting Hartman through the heart.
- Sociopathic Marine: Omnipresent, and usually of type 1 and/or 3.
- Where do we start... Animal Mother is probably the most spectacular example
- ...as is the Door Gunner who shoots up rice paddies and farmers. He turns it Up to Eleven.
- The entire point of the film. See how Leonard has to become crazy to be a good soldier. This is keeping with the concept of dehumanization.
- Hartman gloats about the Marine-taught shooting prowess of university-shooter Charles Whitman and Lee Harvey Oswald. Doubly obnoxious because Whitman's massacre would have been barely a year old by the time the movie was set.
- Hartman himself gets a few minor examples in that some of the disciplinary tactics he reserves for Pyle arguably cross into psychological abuse territory.
- Crazy Earl, who "befriends" with a dead NVA soldier and keeps his corpse on a chair at the Lusthog Squad camp.
- Handjob, who masturbated all the time and everywhere.
- In the end, both Rafterman and Joker have "earned" Thousand-Yard Stare.
- Sock It to Them: The infamous "blanket party" scene, where everyone puts a bar of soap in a sock, and participates in a run-by pummeling of Leonard.
- Sound Off: You'll hear some Jody calls during the first act, and you'll also hear the Mickey Mouse Club theme song used as a marching song in the second act.
- Soundtrack Dissonance:
- The film opens with the song "Hello Vietnam" by Johnnie Wright, which idealistically describes the war in Vietnam as a noble endeavor to preserve freedom.
- "Surfin Bird" by The Trashmen plays as the camera pans over a bleak, wasteland-like firing line.
Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me?
- In the actual Vietnam War, an obscene variant of that song was popular among troops, with the famous refrain being replaced with "F-U-C-K-E-D A-G-A-I-N!"
- "Chapel of Love" by the Dixie Cups plays before the Marine base gets attacked by the NVA in the Tet offensive.
- Nancy Sinatra's feminist anthem "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" with a Da Nang prostitute.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Rafterman is run over by a tank in the book.
- Cowboy is spared in the sense that his death is much quicker (by a single shot) in the film. In the book, he runs into the ambush and mercy-kills the wounded men, but before he can kill himself, the sniper shoots his pistol out of his hand and wounds him repeatedly. Joker then mercy-kills him in turn.
- Steel Eardrums: None of the protagonists wear ear protection at any point in the film, yet nobody ever has problems communicating after massed firearms discharges in close proximity. Especially notable when Leonard snaps and fires two large-caliber rifle rounds in the closed, echoing confines of a bathroom, which should've deafened Joker but doesn't affect his hearing at all.
- Strawman News Media: Minor examples of both of Type 2 and Type 3 with Lt. Lockhart. He explains to Joker that the "Stars and Stripes" newspaper needs to run positive stories about the war because of the negative stories being run by the media back in the States.
Lockhart: Joker, I've told you, we run two basic stories here; grunts who give half their pay to buy gooks toothbrushes and deodorants; winning of hearts and minds—okay? And combat action that results in a kill; winning the war.
Lockhart: Joker, maybe you'd like our guys to read the paper and feel bad. I mean, in case you didn't know it, this is not a particularly popular war, and it's our job to report the news that the "why-are-we-here" civilian newsmen ignore.
- Streetwalker: The Da Nang prostitute.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The climax of the movie is a display of very real and in the same very basic sniper tactics: shoot non-fatally one soldier down, then wait for others to try to drag him to safety and shoot them. Then identify the commanding officer and shoot him to ensue total chaos. On top of that, Cowboy momentarily forgets he's behind a damaged building and starts to give orders, only to be shot and killed by the sniper through a gap in the wall.
- Take That!: Hartman unleashing his inner critic on Lawrence:
Hartman: You're so ugly you could be a modern art masterpiece!
- Tank Goodness: Played straight during the scenes where the Marines are approaching Hue and entering Hue. Subverted during the Pinned Down scene where Cowboy attempts to call in tank support only to be told they have to wait.
- Tanks, but No Tanks: Also a minor offender during combat in Hue City, the tanks employed are actually light tanks M41 Walker Bulldognote This type was used in combat only by the ARVN during the Vietnam War, not M48 Patton medium tanks used by the USMC tank battalions in the Real Life battle. On the other hand, M41 is visually quite similar to M48, and both camera angles used and editing made very difficult to actually notice the difference when casually watching the film.
- Taught by Experience: Cowboy knows better than to try recovering the wounded Marines shot by the sniper because he's learned from experience that the sniper is just trying to lure them into the line of fire one by one. Animal Mother, on the other hand, just doesn't care. After all, his best friends are getting shot up.
- Tempting Fate: Happens subtly. "I am fucking bored to death, man!" Not for long, you aren't.
- That's an Order!: Said by Cowboy to Animal Mother when Cowboy tells him to wait for the tank and not to try recovering the wounded Marines shot by the sniper, to which Animal Mother responds with a big "fuck you".
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Payback says that you can see that Joker is a new guy, because he hasn't got one of these. "A Marine gets it after he's been in the shit for too long. It's like... it's like you've really seen beyond. I got it. All field Marines got it." Joker ends up getting his after he kills the Viet Cong sniper.
- Title Drop: One of the most chilling ones in modern movie history, courtesy of Pyle as he talks lovingly (and creepily) about the ammunition for his rifle. So very Kubrickian.
"Seven-six-two millimeter. Full. Metal. Jacket."
- Too Dumb to Live:
- Yes, continue to taunt the broken and apparently psychotic recruit who is pointing a loaded weapon at you.
- Noble as it may be, when you've just seen someone shot by a sniper, it's probably wise not to walk into the same line of fire to recover him.
- Hey, Crazy Earl, if you encounter a stuffed bunny in a battlefield, there are good chances it is a boobytrap. *BOOM* Oh, nevermind.
- Hey, Cowboy, maybe you shouldn't hide behind the part of the wall with a big hole in it. *BAM* Never mind.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Played with by Gunny Hartman when he tells a black recruit named Private Snowball that Snowball won't like that "they don't serve fried chicken and watermelon on a daily basis in my mess hall", referring to the foods that black people are stereotyped as liking.
- Training from Hell: The first act of the movie focuses on the recruits going through US Marine Corps boot camp, which is generally considered the toughest initial training of the American military branches. Though the only one the audience really sees it as being "from hell" for is Pyle.
- Traitor Shot: There are two scenes in which Sergeant Hartman talks about Marines being killers, and we get a close-up of Private Pyle's face. Pyle eventually shoots Hartman.
- Try Not to Die: Otherwise "you'll be in a world of shit, because Marines are not allowed to die without permission!"
- Two-Act Structure: The Parallel variation. The first part is boot camp, the second part is Vietnam.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: The film ends on this note; Animal Mother is the new squad leader.
- Unbuilt Trope: Gunnery Sergeant Hartman is the Trope Codifier for Drill Sergeant Nasty in American film, but rather than being portrayed as a necessary evil whose methods come through in toughening up the recruits, his methods lead to one of the recruits snapping and killing him, then committing suicide, while the rest are decidedly unhinged afterwards.
- Unusual Euphemism:
- Lt. Lockhart refers to a combat kill as a "weenie".
- Also somewhat inverted by Hartman's threat to "gouge out your eyeballs and skullfuck you!"
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: All of the soldiers who ambush Pyle with a blanket party; it directly leads to Pyle's gradual mental breakdown, which leads to his murder of Sergeant Hartmann, his near-murder of Joker, and then finally him taking his own life.
- Urban Warfare: Rather unusually for a film set in The Vietnam War, most of the combat scenes take place in an urban environment.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: During the scene with a mass grave of Vietnamese casualties, Joker says the bodies are being covered in lime, a comment that might confuse viewers unfamiliar with chemistry. It's also known as "quicklime" or calcium oxide, a powder that readily absorbs water from moist air or skin, quickly destroying body tissues.
- Vomiting Cop: Military flavor. The door gunner killing civilians and boasting about it induces the rookie Rafterman to near vomit.
- War Is Glorious: During his speech upon meeting the new recruits, Hartman tells them that if they get through boot camp, they "will be a minister of death praying for war."
- War Is Hell: "Ain't war hell?" Asked by the door gunner in regards to shooting civilians, but done so in a manner that clearlydoesn't match the question, laying bare just what kind of guy he is. The mass grave at Hue City demonstrates that the communists are at least as bad, if not worse.
- Well-Trained, but Inexperienced: The two halves of the film illustrate this trope nicely; the first half shows how well-trained the Marines are for conventional warfare, while the second half shows that they can still suffer heavy casualties in battle with an irregular enemy that uses tactics like ambushes and booby traps.
- Where da White Women At?: While in the barracks, Stork, a white Marine, jokes with Payback, a black Marine, "How do you stop five black men from raping a white woman?" Answer: "Throw them a basketball."
- Worthy Adversary:
Crazy Earl: These enemy grunts are as hard as slant-eyed drill instructors.... These people we wasted here today ... are the finest human beings we will ever know. After we rotate back to the world, we're gonna miss not having anyone around that's worth shooting.
- You Are in Command Now: Cowboy after his squad leader is killed in action. Animal Mother as Cowboy gets killed in action. It is implied Joker will eventually become the squad leader.
- You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Joker calls Pyle by his real name, Leonard, when he's trying to help him and steer him away from his Despair Event Horizon. It doesn't work.
- You Gotta Be Shitting Me!: Said by Hartman to Joker, as he's reading off the new Marines' MOS's (jobs), and sees that Joker's is basic military journalism.
- You No Take Candle: The Vietnamese prostitute.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: After the final fight, Rafterman is jumping with joy and Donlon gives Joker a sarcastic congratulations. Joker just stares back.
- Zerg Rush: The Tet Offensive at the Marine Base. The VC break down the gate with a truck, followed by several waves of unsupported infantry charging right into an open field of fire. It's bold, but incredibly futile: the fortified marines slaughter them.
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman
The most iconic drill instructor in film, played by R. Lee Ermey.
Drill Sergeant Nasty
Animal Mother and the Duality of Man in ‘Full Metal Jacket’
Animal Mother. He’s the beautiful, M60-wielding bastard responsible for generations of teenage warrior-hopefuls pursuing careers as “a minister of death praying for war” — aka a Marine machine gunner. There’s no shortage of unit T-shirts and stickers sporting the face of the Corps’ belt-fed “Mother,” but the fictional character is much more than a grunt caricature. Sure, he’s why every boot infantryman has an embarrassing picture with an unloaded M240 on his hip at School of Infantry, but he’s actually the most well-written and important character in Gustav Hasford’s The Short-Timers, later adapted for the screen as Full Metal Jacket.
Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam classic is sometimes lauded as one of the best war movies ever made, and rightly so. After Kubrick optioned the rights to the book, Hasford teamed up with Michael Herr — author of the Vietnam classic Dispatches — to write the screenplay, with most of the story and characters taken directly from The Short-Timers. The movie is filled with beautiful shots of a recreated Parris Island and Huê City in Kubrick’s signature one-point perspective. The film itself exists in duality and can be split into two halves, each half essentially existing as its own mini-movie.
The first half is the greatest boot camp sequence of all time (excluding Major Payne, if JROTC counts). It stars R. Lee Ermey in his career-defining role as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman and depicts the beautifully creative language unique to Marine drill instructors. Because Ermey steals every scene he’s in, it’s not uncommon to hear people talk about Full Metal Jacket and say something like, “The first half was so good, but the second half was boring.” But those people are wrong.
Yes, the boot camp sequence is great. And yes, breaking the mold of Vietnam movies by setting the action in the bombed-out streets of Huê instead of the triple-canopy jungle is also great, but it’s the examination of the duality of man that makes the second half of the movie remarkable.
In a notable scene in which the protagonist, Joker, is chided for having “Born to Kill” scrawled on his helmet and a peace sign button on his flak, he responds, “I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir … the Jungian thing, sir.” But while Joker jokes about the theme, Animal Mother embodies it.
With belts of 7.62 linked across his chest and lines such as, “If I’m gonna get my balls blown off for a word, my word is poontang,” it’s easy to write Animal Mother off as a character about as deep as a baby pool, but he’s actually the most profound character in the film.
From the moment we first meet him, he’s living up to the first part of his name: Animal. While the rest of the characters greet each other with jokes and smiles, Animal Mother stands flatfooted, jaw sagging open, cradling his M60 like an appendage. He lumbers up to Joker (and by association, the audience) and challenges him/us. “You a … ph-photographer?” He barely forms the words into something coherent, and with ripped-off sleeves revealing the biggest muscles in the platoon and a 7-inch Ka-Bar displayed prominently on his shoulder, he certainly looks more like an animal than the rest of the Marines do.
As the squad moves deeper into Vietnam, Animal Mother’s animalistic qualities are laid on thick. When the Marines solicit the services of a prostitute, 8-Ball begins to lead her away, but Animal Mother steps in like the alpha in a pack of predators. After spewing a racist insult at 8-Ball, Animal Mother smacks away his hand, grabs the prostitute, and literally dominates the rest of the males.
When the Marines finally find themselves in combat — where we expect to see Animal Mother further stray from his humanity — he instead fulfills the second half of his name. As members of the squad (Animal Mother’s adopted family) start to become casualties, he abandons the “I Am Become Death” persona advertised on his helmet and instead demonstrates pure motherly love.
As Marine veteran Steven Pressfield wrote in Gates of Fire, “The opposite of fear is love.” So, too, is love the opposite of animal nature. Even when the squad members freeze with fear and self-preservation takes hold of them, Animal Mother does the motherly thing. He ignores his survival instinct and rushes into the kill zone to try to rescue Doc Jay and 8-Ball. Animal Mother’s love drives him to overcome his base ideology and protect them, risking everything for his doomed family members. This ultimate act of love demonstrates the true duality of man: killing for hate in one moment, sacrificing for love in the next.
When Animal Mother assumes command of the squad, they eventually locate and wound an enemy sniper. As she lies dying, the squad argues about what her fate should be. Animal Mother slips back into his role as an animal, saying, “I say we leave the g**k for the mother-loving rats.” It’s this constant shift between roles that really makes Animal Mother the embodiment of Carl Jung’s philosophy on duality.
The final scene leaves little room for interpretation that not just Animal Mother but all of Full Metal Jacket is saturated with that philosophy. The scene shows the surviving Marines marching on-line across the burning remains of the city they just destroyed. They’re all killers now — even Joker, the combat correspondent sporting a peace sign. But despite their aged appearances and status as battle-tested veterans, they sing TheMickey Mouse Club theme song. There are no cadences about napalm sticking to kids or smashing birds to death — it’s just a song typically sung by toddlers about everyone’s favorite cartoon mouse. And while the whole film centers around the duality theme, no character personifies it quite like Hollywood’s greatest machine gunner.
Read Next: The Story Behind the Story: Two Great Books About Vietnam
Mac Caltrider is a staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. He served in the US Marine Corps and is a former police officer. Caltrider earned his bachelor’s degree in history and now reads anything he can get his hands on. He is also the creator of Pipes & Pages, a site intended to increase readership among enlisted troops. Caltrider spends most of his time reading, writing, and waging a one-man war against premature hair loss.
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Private Joker : Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?
Private Cowboy : Hey, start the cameras. This is "Vietnam - the Movie."
Private Eightball : Yeah, Joker can be John Wayne. I'll be a horse.
Donlon : T.H.E. Rock can be a rock.
T.H.E. Rock : I'll be Ann-Margret.
Doc Jay : Animal Mother can be a rabid buffalo.
Crazy Earl : I'll be General Custer.
Private Rafterman : Well, who'll be the Indians?
Animal Mother : Hey, we'll let the gooks play the Indians.
Metal 8 ball jacket full
Full Metal Jacket
1987 US war drama film by Stanley Kubrick
For the type of bullet, see Full metal jacket (ammunition).
Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 wardrama film that was directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Herr and Gustav Hasford. The film is based on Hasford's 1979 novel The Short-Timers and stars Matthew Modine, Lee Ermey, Vincent D'Onofrio and Adam Baldwin.
The storyline follows a platoon of U.S. Marines through their boot camp training in Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, primarily focusing on privates Joker and Pyle, who struggle under their abusive drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. The second half of the film portrays the experiences of two of the platoon's Marines in Vietnamese cities Da Nang and Huế during the Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War. The film's title refers to the full metal jacket bullet used by military servicemen.
Warner Bros. released Full Metal Jacket in the United States on June 26, 1987. The film received critical acclaim, grossed $46.4 million against a budget of $16 million, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Kubrick, Herr, and Hasford. In 2001, the American Film Institute placed the film at number 95 in its poll titled "AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills".
During the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War, a group of recruits arrive at Parris Island. The drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman uses harsh methods to turn the recruits into combat-ready Marines. Among the recruits is the overweight and dim-witted Leonard Lawrence, whom Hartman nicknames "Gomer Pyle", and the wisecracking J.T. Davis, who receives the name "Joker" after interrupting Hartman's speech with an impression of John Wayne.
When Pyle shows ineptitude in basic training, Hartman pairs him with Joker, under whose supervision Pyle starts to improve. One day, Hartman discovers a jelly doughnut in Pyle's footlocker. Hartman blames the platoon for Pyle's infractions and adopts a collective punishment policy; he will punish the entire platoon, except for Pyle, for every mistake Pyle makes. One night, the recruits haze Pyle with a blanket party, in which Joker reluctantly participates. Following this, Pyle appears to reinvent himself as a model recruit, showing particular expertise in marksmanship. This pleases Hartman but worries Joker, who believes Pyle may be suffering a mental breakdown after seeing Pyle talking to his rifle.
The recruits graduate and receive their Military Occupational Specialty assignments. Joker is assigned to military journalism while most of the others—including Pyle—are assigned to Infantry. During the platoon's final night on Parris Island, Joker discovers Pyle in the toilets,[a] loading his rifle, executing drill commands and loudly reciting the Rifleman's Creed. Pyle's voice awakens the platoon and Hartman confronts Pyle and orders him to surrender the rifle. Pyle kills Hartman and appears to be ready to shoot Joker. Joker calls Pyle by his given name Leonard and Pyle commits suicide while Joker watches in horror.
In January 1968, Joker, who is now a sergeant, is a Da Nang-based war correspondent for Stars and Stripes alongside combat photographer Private First Class Rafterman, who wants to go into combat as Joker claims he has. At the Marine base, Joker is mocked for not having a thousand-yard stare, indicating his lack of war experience. The North Vietnamese Army unsuccessfully attempts to overrun the base as the Tet Offensive begins.
The following day, the journalism staff is briefed about enemy attacks in South Vietnam. Joker and Rafterman are sent to Phu Bai, where they meet the Lusthog Squad and Joker is reunited with Sergeant "Cowboy", with whom he went through boot camp. Joker accompanies the squad during the Battle of Huế, when the enemy kills platoon commander "Touchdown". After the Marines declare the area secure, a team of American news journalists and reporters enters Huế to interview Marines about their experiences in Vietnam and their opinions about the war.
While patrolling Huế, a booby trap kills Crazy Earl, the squad leader, leaving Cowboy in command. The squad becomes lost and Cowboy orders Eightball to scout the area. A Viet Cong sniper wounds Eightball and the squad corpsman Doc Jay. Believing the sniper is drawing the squad into an ambush, Cowboy unsuccessfully attempts to radio for tank support. The squad's machine-gunner Animal Mother disobeys Cowboy's orders to retreat and attempts to save his comrades. He discovers there is only one sniper but Doc Jay and Eightball are killed when Doc Jay attempts to indicate the sniper's location. Cowboy moves the rest of the squad to an abandoned building for cover. While radioing for support, the sniper shoots and kills Cowboy.
Animal Mother assumes command of the squad and leads an attack on the sniper. Joker finds the sniper, a teenage girl, and attempts to shoot her but his rifle jams. Rafterman shoots the sniper, mortally wounding her. As the squad converges, the sniper begs them to shoot her, prompting an argument about whether to kill her or leave her to suffer. Animal Mother decides to allow a mercy killing only if Joker performs it. After some hesitation, Joker kills her. The Marines congratulate Joker on his kill and he displays the thousand-yard stare. The Marines march toward their camp singing the "Mickey Mouse March". Joker states via narration that despite being "in a world of shit", he is glad to be alive and is no longer afraid.
- Matthew Modine as Private/Sergeant J. T. "Joker" Davis, a wise-cracking young recruit. On set, Modine kept a diary that in 2005 was adapted into a book and in 2013 into an interactive app.
- Vincent D'Onofrio as Private Leonard "Gomer Pyle" Lawrence, an overweight, slow-minded recruit who is the subject of Hartman's mockery. D'Onofrio heard from Modine of the auditions for the film. D'Onofrio recorded his audition using a rented video camera and was dressed in army fatigues. According to Kubrick, Pyle was "the hardest part to cast in the whole movie"; Kubrick, however, quickly responded to D'Onofrio and cast him in the part. D'Onofrio was required to gain 70 pounds (32 kg).
- Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, a harsh, foul-mouthed and ruthless senior drill instructor. Ermey served as a U.S. Marine drill instructor in the Vietnam War and used this experience to ad lib much of his dialogue.
- Adam Baldwin as Animal Mother, a combat-hungry machine gunner who takes pride in killing enemy soldiers. Arnold Schwarzenegger was first considered for the role but turned it down in favor of a part in The Running Man.
- Arliss Howard as Private/Sergeant "Cowboy" Evans, a friend of Joker and a member of the Lusthog Squad.
- Kevyn Major Howard as Rafterman, a combat photographer.
- Dorian Harewood as Eightball, a member of the squad.
- Tim Colceri as Doorgunner, a ruthless helicopter door gunner who suggests Joker and Rafterman write a story about him. Colceri, a former Marine, was originally slated to play Hartman, a role that went to Ermey. Kubrick gave Colceri this smaller part as a consolation.
Additional characters include Ed O'Ross as Lieutenant Walter J. "Touchdown" Schinoski, the first platoon leader of the Lusthog Squad; John Terry as Lieutenant Lockhart, the editor of Stars and Stripes; Bruce Boa as a POG Colonel who dresses down Joker for wearing a peace symbol on his lapel. Kubrick and his daughter Vivian make uncredited appearances as photographers at a Vietnam massacre site.
In early 1980, Kubrick contacted Michael Herr, author of the Vietnam War memoir Dispatches (1977), to discuss work on a film about the Holocaust but Kubrick discarded that idea in favor of a film about the Vietnam War. Herr and Kubrick met in England; Kubrick told Herr he wanted to make a war film but had yet to find a story to adapt. Kubrick discovered Gustav Hasford's novel The Short-Timers (1979) while reading the Virginia Kirkus Review. Herr received the novel in bound galleys and thought it is a masterpiece. In 1982, Kubrick read the novel twice; he concluded it is "a unique, absolutely wonderful book" and decided to adapt it for his next film. According to Kubrick, he was drawn to the book's dialogue, which he found "almost poetic in its carved-out, stark quality". In 1983, Kubrick began researching for the film; he watched archival footage and documentaries, read Vietnamese newspapers on microfilm from the Library of Congress, and studied hundreds of photographs from the era. Initially, Herr was not interested in revisiting his Vietnam War experiences, and Kubrick spent three years persuading him to participate, describing the discussions as "a single phone call lasting three years, with interruptions".
In 1985, Kubrick contacted Hasford and invited him to join the team; he talked to Hasford by telephone three to four times a week for hours at a time. Kubrick had already written a detailed treatment of the novel, and Kubrick and Herr met at Kubrick's home every day, breaking the treatment into scenes. Herr then wrote the first draft of the film script. Kubrick worried the audience might misread the book's title as a reference to people who did only did half a day's work and changed it to Full Metal Jacket after coming across the phrase in a gun catalogue. After the first draft was complete, Kubrick telephoned his orders to Hasford and Herr, who mailed their submissions to him. Kubrick read and edited Hasford's and Herr's submissions, and the team repeated the process. Neither Hasford nor Herr knew how much each had contributed to the screenplay, which led to a dispute over the final credits. Hasford said, "We were like guys on an assembly line in the car factory. I was putting on one widget and Michael was putting on another widget and Stanley was the only one who knew that this was going to end up being a car". Herr said Kubrick was not interested in making an anti-war film but "he wanted to show what war is like".
At some point, Kubrick wanted to meet Hasford in person, but Herr advised against this, describing The Short-Timers author as a "scary man, a big, haunted marine", and did not believe Hasford and Kubrick would "get on". Kubrick, however, insisted on the meeting, which occurred at Kubrick's house in England. The meeting went poorly, and Hasford did not meet with Kubrick again.
Through Warner Bros., Kubrick advertised a casting search in the United States and Canada; he used videotape to audition actors and received over 3,000 submissions. Kubrick's staff screened the tapes, leaving 800 of them for him to review.: 461
Former U.S. Marine drill instructor Ermey was originally hired as a technical advisor. Ermey asked Kubrick if he could audition for the role of Hartman. Kubrick, who had seen Ermey's portrayal of drill instructor Staff Sergeant Loyce in The Boys in Company C (1978), told Ermey he was not vicious enough to play the character. Ermey improvised insulting dialogue against a group of Royal Marines who were being considered for the part of background Marines, to demonstrate his ability to play the character and to show how a drill instructor breaks down individuality in new recruits.: 462 Upon viewing the videotape of these sessions, Kubrick gave Ermey the role, realizing he "was a genius for this part". Kubrick incorporated the 250-page transcript of Ermey's rants into the script.: 462–463 Ermey's experience as a drill instructor during the Vietnam War proved invaluable; Kubrick estimated Ermey wrote 50% of his character's dialogue, particularly the insults.
While Ermey practiced his lines in a rehearsal room, Kubrick's assistant Leon Vitali would throw tennis balls and oranges at him, which Ermey had to catch and throw back as quickly as possible while saying his lines as fast as he could. Any hesitation, slip, or missed line would necessitate starting over. Twenty error-free runs were required. "[He] was my drill instructor", Ermey said of Vitali.: 463
Eight months of negotiations to cast Anthony Michael Hall as Private Joker were unsuccessful.Val Kilmer was also considered for the role, and Bruce Willis turned down a role due to filming commitments of his television series Moonlighting.Bill McKinney was considered for the role of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. Denzel Washington wanted to be in the film but Kubrick did not send him a script.
Kubrick filmed Full Metal Jacket in England in 1985 and 1986. Scenes were filmed in Cambridgeshire, the Norfolk Broads, in eastern London at Millennium Mills and Beckton Gas Works in Newham, and in the Isle of Dogs.Bassingbourn Barracks, a former Royal Air Forcestation and then British Army base, was used as the Parris Island Marine boot camp. A British Army rifle range near Barton, Cambridge, was used for the scene in which Hartman congratulates Private Pyle for his shooting skills. Kubrick worked from still photographs of Huế taken in 1968; he found an area owned by British Gas that closely resembled it and was scheduled to be demolished. The disused Beckton Gas Works, a few miles from central London, was filmed to depict Huế after attacks. Kubrick had buildings blown up, and the film's art director used a wrecking ball to knock specific holes in some buildings for two months. Kubrick had a plastic replica jungle flown in from California but once he saw it dismissed the idea, saying; "I don't like it. Get rid of it." The open country scenes were filmed at marshland in Cliffe-at-Hoo and along the River Thames; locations were supplemented with 200 imported Spanish palm trees and 100,000 plastic tropical plants from Hong Kong.
Kubrick acquired four M41 tanks from a Belgian army colonel who was an admirer.Westland Wessex helicopters, which have a much longer and less-rounded nose than that of the Vietnam era H-34, were painted Marine green to represent Marine Corps Sikorsky H-34 Choctaw helicopters. Kubrick obtained a selection of rifles, M79 grenade launchers, and M60 machine guns from a licensed weapons dealer.
Modine described the filming as difficult; Beckton Gas Works was a toxic environment for the film crew, being contaminated with asbestos and hundreds of other chemicals. During the boot camp sequence of the film, Modine and the other recruits underwent Marine Corps training, during which Ermey yelled at them for 10 hours a day while filming the Parris Island scenes. To ensure the actors' reactions to Ermey' lines were as authentic and fresh as possible, Ermey and the recruits did not rehearse together.: 468 For film continuity, each recruit had his head shaved once a week.
While filming, Ermey had a car accident and broke several ribs, making him unavailable for four and a half months. During Cowboy's death scene, a building that resembles the alien monolith in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is visible, which Kubrick described as an "extraordinary accident".
During filming, Hasford contemplated taking legal action over the writing credits. Originally, the filmmakers intended Hasford to receive an "additional dialogue" credit but he fought for and eventually received full credit. Hasford and two friends visited the set dressed as extras but was mistaken by a crew member for Herr. Hasford identified himself as the writer upon whose work the film is based.
Kubrick's daughter Vivian, who appears uncredited as a news camera operator, shadowed the filming of Full Metal Jacket. She filmed 18 hours of behind-the-scenes footage for a potential "making-of" documentary that went unmade. Sections of her work can be seen in the documentary Stanley Kubrick's Boxes (2008).
Michael Pursell's essay "Full Metal Jacket: The Unravelling of Patriarchy" (1988) was an early, in-depth consideration of the film's two-part structure and its criticism of masculinity, saying the film shows "war and pornography as facets of the same system".
Most reviews have focused on military brainwashing themes in the boot camp section of the film while seeing the content in the film's latter half as more confusing and disjointed. Rita Kempley of The Washington Post wrote, "it's as if they borrowed bits of every war movie to make this eclectic finale".Roger Ebert saw in the film an attempt to tell a story of individual characters and the war's effects on them. According to Ebert, the result is a shapeless film that feels "more like a book of short stories than a novel". Julian Rice, in his book Kubrick's Hope (2008), saw the second part of the film as a continuation of Joker's psychic journey in his attempt to understand human evil.
Tony Lucia, in his 1987 review of Full Metal Jacket for the Reading Eagle, examined the themes of Kubrick's career, suggesting "the unifying element may be the ordinary man dwarfed by situations too vast and imposing to handle". Lucia refers to the "military mentality" in this film and also said the theme covers "a man testing himself against his own limitations", and concluded: "Full Metal Jacket is the latest chapter in an ongoing movie which is not merely a comment on our time or a time past, but on something that reaches beyond".
British critic Gilbert Adair wrote, "Kubrick's approach to language has always been reductive and uncompromisingly deterministic in nature. He appears to view it as the exclusive product of environmental conditioning, only very marginally influenced by concepts of subjectivity and interiority, by all the whims, shades and modulations of personal expression".
Michael Herr wrote of his work on the screenplay, "The substance was single-minded, the old and always serious problem of how you put into a film or a book the living, behaving presence of what Jung called The Shadow, the most accessible of archetypes, and the easiest to experience ... War is the ultimate field of Shadow-activity, where all of its other activities lead you. As they expressed it in Vietnam, 'Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no Evil, for I am the Evil'."
Kubrick's daughter Vivian Kubrick, under the alias "Abigail Mead", wrote the film's score. According to an interview in the January 1988 issue of Keyboard, the film was scored mostly with a Series III edition Fairlight CMI synthesizer and a Synclavier. For the period music, Kubrick went through Billboard's list of Top 100 Hits for each year from 1962 to 1968 and tried many songs but found "sometimes the dynamic range of the music was too great, and we couldn't work in dialogue".
A single titled "Full Metal Jacket (I Wanna Be Your Drill Instructor)", which is credited to Mead and Nigel Goulding, was released to promote the film. It incorporates Ermey's drill cadences from the film. The single reached number two in the UK singles chart.
Full Metal Jacket received a limited release on June 26, 1987, in 215 theaters. During its opening weekend, it accrued $2.2 million, an average of $10,313 per theater, ranking it the number 10 film for the weekend June 26–28. It took a further $2 million for a total of $5.7 million before being widely released in 881 theaters on July 10, 1987. The weekend of July 10–12 saw the film gross $6.1 million, an average of $6,901 per theater, and rank as the second-highest-grossing film. Over the next four weeks the film opened in a further 194 theaters to its widest release of 1,075 theaters; it closed two weeks later with a total gross of $46.4 million, making it the twenty-third-highest-grossing film of 1987. As of 1998[update], the film had grossed $120 million worldwide.
Full Metal Jacket was released on Blu-ray on October 23, 2007.Warner Home Video released a 25th anniversary edition on Blu-ray on August 7, 2012.
Warner released the film on 4K Ultra HD in the UK on September 21, 2020, and in the U.S. on the following day. Other regions were slated for an October release. The 4K UHD release uses a new HDRremastered native 2160p that was transferred from the original 35mm negative, which was supervised by Kubrick's personal assistant Leon Vitali. It contains the remixed audio and, for the first time since the original DVD release, the theatrical mono mix. The release was a critical success; publications praised its image and audio quality, calling the former exceptionally good and faithful to the original theatrical release, and Kubrick's vision while noting the lack of new extras and bonus content. A collector's editionbox set of this 4K UHD version was released with different cover art, a replica theatrical poster of the film, a letter from director Stanley Kubrick, and a booklet about the film's production among other extras.
Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively collected reviews to give the film a score of 92% based on reviews from 83 critics and an average rating of 8.30/10. The summary states; "Intense, tightly constructed, and darkly comic at times, Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket may not boast the most original of themes, but it is exceedingly effective at communicating them". Another aggregator, Metacritic, gave it a score of 76 out of 100 based on 19 reviews, which indicates a "generally favorable" response. Reviewers generally reacted favorably to the cast—Ermey in particular— and the film's first act about recruit training. Several reviews, however, were critical of the latter part of the film, which is set in Vietnam, and what was considered a "muddled" moral message in the finale.
Richard Corliss of Time called the film a "technical knockout", praising "the dialogue's wild, desperate wit; the daring in choosing a desultory skirmish to make a point about war's pointlessness", and "the fine, large performances of almost every actor", saying Ermey and D'Onofrio would receive Oscar nominations. Corliss appreciated "the Olympian elegance and precision of Kubrick's filmmaking".Empire's Ian Nathan awarded the film three stars out of five, saying it is "inconsistent" and describing it as "both powerful and frustratingly unengaged". Nathan said after the opening act, which focuses on the recruit training, the film becomes "bereft of purpose"; nevertheless, he summarized his review by calling it a "hardy Kubrickian effort that warms on you with repeated viewings" and praised Ermey's "staggering performance".Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film "harrowing, beautiful and characteristically eccentric". Canby echoed praise for Ermey, calling him "the film's stunning surprise ... he's so good—so obsessed—that you might think he wrote his own lines".[b] Canby said D'Onofrio's performance should be admired and described Modine as "one of the best, most adaptable young film actors of his generation", and concluded Full Metal Jacket is "a film of immense and very rare imagination".
Jim Hall, writing for Film4 in 2010, awarded the film five stars out of five and added to the praise for Ermey, saying his "performance as the foul-mouthed Hartman is justly celebrated and it's difficult to imagine the film working anything like as effectively without him". The review preferred the opening training segment to the later Vietnam sequence, calling it "far more striking than the second and longer section". Hall commented the film ends abruptly but felt "it demonstrates just how clear and precise the director's vision could be when he resisted a fatal tendency for indulgence". Hall concluded; "Full Metal Jacket ranks with Dr. Strangelove as one of Kubrick's very best".Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader called it "Elliptical, full of subtle inner rhymes ... and profoundly moving, this is the most tightly crafted Kubrick film since Dr. Strangelove, as well as the most horrific".Variety called the film an "intense, schematic, superbly made" drama that is "loaded with vivid, outrageously vulgar military vernacular that contributes heavily to the film's power" but said it never develops "a particularly strong narrative". The cast performances were all labeled "exceptional"; Modine was singled out as "embodying both what it takes to survive in the war and a certain omniscience".Gilbert Adair, writing for Full Metal Jacket, commented; "Kubrick's approach to language has always been of a reductive and uncompromisingly deterministic nature. He appears to view it as the exclusive product of environmental conditioning, only very marginally influenced by concepts of subjectivity and interiority, by all whims, shades and modulations of personal expression".
Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert called Full Metal Jacket "strangely shapeless" and awarding it two and a half stars out of four. Ebert called it "one of the best-looking war movies ever made on sets and stage" but said this was not enough to compete with the "awesome reality of Platoon, Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter". Ebert criticized the film's Vietnam-set second act, saying the "movie disintegrates into a series of self-contained set pieces, none of them quite satisfying" and concluded the film's message is "too little and too late", having been done by other Vietnam War films. Ebert praised Ermey and D'Onofrio, saying "these are the two best performances in the movie, which never recovers after they leave the scene". Ebert's review angered Gene Siskel on their television show At The Movies; he criticized Ebert for liking Benji the Hunted more than Full Metal Jacket.Time Out London disliked the film, saying "Kubrick's direction is as steely cold and manipulative as the régime it depicts", and that the characters are underdeveloped, adding "we never really get to know, let alone care about, the hapless recruits on view".
British television channel Channel 4 voted Full Metal Jacket fifth on its list of the greatest war films ever made. In 2008, Empire placed the film at number 457 on its list of "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time". In 2010, The Guardian ranked it 19th on its list of the "25 best action and war films of all time". The film is ranked 95 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Thrills list, which was published in 2001.
Between 1987 and 1989, Full Metal Jacket was nominated for 11 awards, including an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, two BAFTA Awards for Best Sound and Best Special Effects, and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for Ermey. It won five awards, including three from overseas; Best Foreign Language Film from the Japanese Academy, Best Producer from the Academy of Italian Cinema, Director of the Year at the London Critics Circle Film Awards, and Best Director and Best Supporting Actor at the Boston Society of Film Critics Awards for Kubrick and Ermey respectively. Of the five awards it won, four were awarded to Kubrick and the other was given to Ermey.
Differences between novel and screenplay
See also: The Short-Timers § Film adaptation
Film scholar Greg Jenkins has analyzed the adaptation of the novel as a screenplay. The novel is in three parts and the film greatly expands the relatively brief first section about the boot camp on Parris Island and essentially discards Part III. This gives the film a twofold structure, telling two largely independent stories that are connected by the same characters. Jenkins said this structure is a development of concepts Kubrick originally discussed in the 1960s, when he talked about wanting to explode the usual conventions of narrative structure.
Sergeant Hartman, who is renamed from the book's Gerheim, has an expanded role in the film. Private Pyle's incompetence is presented as weighing negatively on the rest of the platoon; unlike those in the novel, he is the only under-performing recruit. The film omits Hartman's disclosure he thinks Pyle might be mentally unstable—a "Section 8"—to the other troops; instead, Joker questions Pyle's mental state. In contrast, Hartman praises Pyle, saying he is "born again hard". Jenkins says a portrayal of the character of Hartman with a warmer social relationship with the troops would have upset the balance of the film, which depends on the spectacle of ordinary soldiers coming to grips with Hartman as a force of nature embodying a killer culture.
Some scenes in the book were removed from the screenplay or conflated with others. For example, Cowboy's introduction of the "Lusthog Squad" was markedly shortened and supplemented with material from other sections of the book. Although the book's third section was largely omitted, elements from it were inserted into other parts of the film. For instance, the climactic episode with the sniper is a conflation of two sections of Parts II and III of the book. According to Jenkins, the film presents this passage more dramatically but in less gruesome detail than the novel.
The film often has a more tragic tone than the book, which relies on callous humor. In the film, Joker remains a model of humane thinking, as evidenced by his moral struggle in the sniper scene and elsewhere. Joker works to overcome his own meekness rather than compete with other Marines. The film omits Joker's eventual domination over Animal Mother shown in the book.
The film also omits Rafterman's death; according to Jenkins, this allows viewers to reflect on Rafterman's personal growth and speculate on his future growth after the war.
In popular culture
The line "Me so horny. Me love you long time", which is uttered by the Da Nang street prostitute (Papillon Soo Soo) to Joker (Modine), became a catchphrase in popular culture and was sampled by rap artists 2 Live Crew in their 1990 hit "Me So Horny" and by Sir Mix-A-Lot in "Baby Got Back" (1992).
- ^A toilet, in common terminology, is termed a head in U.S. Navy and Marine Corps usage, See Glossary of nautical terms article.
- ^As noted above, much of Ermey's dialogue in the film was indeed based on his own improvisations.
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Sergei again took up Tanya's mouth, Andrei took her in the ass, constantly emphasizing how good he was. Before that, I was fucked only in a condom, but Lesha apparently did not particularly like him. A jet of his sperm was in me, the feeling of it sticking out of me is beyond words.
I no longer felt humiliated. It was already just sex, new to me, but sex nonetheless.
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