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Full Metal Jacket

November 13, 2010

762. Full Metal Jacket
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
USA, 1987
IMDB | allmovie

Reviewed by Rachel
First viewing


A two-segment narrative first follows young Marine recruits through gruelling boot camp, and subsequently follows boot camp graduate Private Joker (Matthew Modine) as he is sent to a dangerous city in Vietnam as a military journalist.

Essential Scene:

The recruits are standing to attention by their bunks, with their rifles next to them.

Sgt Hartman: Tonight, you pukes will sleep with your 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 ol’ Mary-Jane Rottencrotch through her pretty pink panties are over! You’re married to this piece. This weapon of iron and wood. And you will be faithful. Port, hut!

[Recruits bring their rifles to their chests.]

Sgt Hartman: Prepare to mount!

[Recruits step back towards their bunks]

Sgt Hartman: Mount!

[Recruits quickly hop onto their bunks with their rifles at ease.]

Sgt Hartman: Port, hut!

[Lying down, the recruits hold their rifles to their chest.]

Sgt Hartman: Pray!

Recruits: [chanting] This is my rifle. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy, who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will. Before God I swear this creed: my rifle and myself are defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until there is no enemy, but peace. Amen.


War is brutal — and for the most part, so is Full Metal Jacket.

The second half of the film is a tad more predictable and deals with the mess that was the Vietnam war. But the first half is what got to me; the dehumanisation of the men at the boot camp. They’re trained to be killing machines, to be detached from their emotions and consciences. What happened to the men before and after doesn’t matter. They are merely pawns.

Admittedly, I’ve tried to avoid war films. I’ve seen very few, so I can’t compare Full Metal Jacket with the other classics of this genre. As an introduction, it made me morbidly curious enough to try and brave a few others.

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