Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 29

Thread: Stanley Kubrick's FULL METAL JACKET

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Ottawa Canada
    Posts
    5,498

    Stanley Kubrick's FULL METAL JACKET

    "Goodbye my Darling Hello Vietnam" by Tom T. Hall
    blares over the oddly fascinating spectacle of new marine recruits getting their melons shorn.

    This is the opening of Full Metal Jacket, a Stanley Kubrick film, and one of my all-time favorite movies.

    Gus Hasford's novel The Short-Timers was the basis for this Vietnam film by the Master. Kubrick adapted the screenplay with Gus and Michael Herr- the author of DISPATCHES and consultant on Apocalypse Now.

    R. Lee Ermey (who was a chopper pilot in Apocalypse Now and a drill instructor in The Boys of Company C) was hired to be a technical advisor, teaching the actors how to shoot rifles. After a personal campaign by Ermey to get Tom Colceri's job as the Parris Island drill instructor, he got an audition, where he went on a verbal rant, never repeating the same insult twice- all the while being pummelled with oranges from Kubrick's assistant Leon Vitali (Lord Bullingdon in Barry Lyndon). Ermey was so good, he rarely did more than 3 takes for each scene. But other scenes required up to 30 takes, like the "jelly donut" sequence.

    "Lee, I want it real" Kubrick told him.
    "Stanley, I wouldn't have it any other way" was the reply.

    The result is a drill instructor performance that has yet to be matched. Ermey burns, sears and intimidates like no other military character. He is truly fearsome, and you believe he is indeed a senior drill instructor in the Marine Corps. How he was overlooked for an oscar nomination is beyond me.

    Three recruits feature prominantly: Pte's Pyle, Joker and Cowboy.

    One dies in the barracks, two go to 'Nam.

    Once in 'Nam, Joker is the man to watch, as he goes around with his partner Rafterman taking journalistic note of what carnage is ocurring.The gov't rag "Stars and Stripes" is his mission, but clearly Joker does not belong in the marines. He is the least "soldierly" of all of the characters in the film (Even Pyle could have been a good grunt I think). Joker lacks discipline- all throughout the movie. His first line (during an inspection, no less!) is "Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?"- a serious breach of military conduct. He pays for it with a shot to the gut from Ermey and a tirade that would make anyone nervous. It is obvious that Joker is a smart guy. Why is he in the army? It's a question that is never answered, and I like it that way.

    This film is extremely stark. It is also extremely mysterious. Kubrick has always had a fascination with war, and with FMJ he made a film polarly different from Platoon, yet equally great.
    I believe if Full Metal jacket was released sooner that it was, it would have won the oscar that Platoon claimed.

    Some of the amazing things about the production:

    -It was shot outside of London (at the Beckton gasworks) with thousands of palm trees imported and a wrecking ball to create the Hue City rubble.

    -Stanley's daughter Vivian created the eerie score. She was given the name Abigail Mead in order to help her chances at winning an oscar. She is also in the film as a photographer during the "dead are covered with lime" scene.

    -All of the military items (weapons, vehicles, uniforms, etc.) are 100% authentic. And Kubrick acquired them with NO assistance from the US military.

    Matthew Modine was as frustrated as Ryan O'Neal was from working with Kubrick. One day on set he almost had a nervous breakdown and shouted at Stanley: "What do you want from me?!?!?!"
    Kubrick calmly said "I don't want anything from you. I want you to be yourself".

    Lee Ermey was in a near fatal car accident early into the shoot. The production shut down until he healed, and after resuming shooting Kubrick said his performance seemed to get more intense. When Lee had his first take with Vincent D'Onofrio (a seriously underrated actor) Vincent could not stay concentrated on the scene. He kept losing his composure because Ermey was so overwheliming & was told to keep himself separated from the actors who played the recruits. The result was impressive if I say so myself.

    I could go on and on about this special work of cinematic genius. I haven't even touched on the dialogue, which gives a thinking man a lot to ponder.

    It's a fucking masterpiece, OK?
    Last edited by Johann; 08-11-2009 at 04:31 PM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,700
    Yeah, great! Thanks.
    I saw it in Chicago when it first opened.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,636
    I'm still a bit ambivalent about the second half of the film. My recollection of the excellent first half is vivid, unlike the second half. It's certainly a more ambitious film than Platoon. Stone's focus was narrow: what 'Nam was like from a soldier's p.o.v. I think Stone succeeds in that the visuals convey the fear, disorientation, confusion and frustration reported by veterans of this war.
    To be fair, I haven't seen either film in over a decade. My experience indicates that, while Kubrick's films improve as they age, Stone's depreciate some.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,700
    I don't think we have to denigrate Platoon. Platoon and Full Metal Jacket are both among the half dozen best films made about the Vietnam War. As you suggest, Platoon is more integrated. Full Metal Jacket is two separate halves, both outstanding and freestanding.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Ottawa Canada
    Posts
    5,498

    Stone Vs. Kubrick

    When Oliver Stone was asked about Kubrick's then in-production Full Metal Jacket, he hedged, and said: "I don't want to go there. I don't want to think about what he'll do. He's a master."

    Myself, I've been an infantry soldier- in 1PPCLI (can't say I was a model soldier, but I digress). It is absolutely accurate. One really real scene is the "claymore" scene. I've done a sentry where you "bang on that sucker three times" more than once. Claymores are textbook war toys. Just like grenades.

    When Platoon came out I was 11 years old and I was infatuated with it (I was still in Rambo mode). My friends and I used to play war paroting lines: "How come we always get fuckin' ambush?"
    "It's politics, man, politics". I've seen Platoon countless times and if you're a student of Stone (like me), it ranks very high in his canon.
    Kubrick loved it too. "I listened to the sound of the rifles in Platoon to compare them to my movie and they sound pretty much the same". he said.

    Chris, what are the other "half dozen best" 'Nam flicks?
    I like these ones in particular:



    The Deer Hunter
    Hair
    84 Charlie Mopic
    Gardens of Stone
    Hamburger Hill
    Heaven & Earth
    Coming Home
    Born on the 4th of July
    Purple Hearts
    Good Morning Vietnam
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,700
    Vietnam war movies? I don't know really. But these are the top of my list:

    Apocalypse Now
    Platoon
    Full Metal Jacket


    Sorry to disappoint you: not very orignal. These are at the top of everybody's list. I suspect there'd be three more worth including. The Deer Hunter is a powerful film; however, if falsifies and manipulates (not like Apocalypse Now, which obviously segues into a Heart of Darkness fantasy). Goodbye, Vietnam has its points. Coming Home and Born on the Fourth of July are too corny. I mean ones that are seriously artistic -- and make powerful statements about the war and about the military. That's a small group.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 11-19-2003 at 02:20 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Ottawa Canada
    Posts
    5,498

    Just a little off topic...

    Yes, I agree those 3 are IT.

    How do they rank in the "war film" artistic merit dept. as opposed to just 'Nam flicks?

    Saving Private Ryan? Stalingrad? Das Boot? Die Brucke? The Pianist? are they more artistic as war films?
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,700

    War ranks

    I think they all three rate high artistically, and as statements about the Vietnam War. Platoon may not seem as 'artistic,' but it's just a great movie. It shows a lot about the demographics and social life and the drugs that the others overlook, too. It's an intense military/war experience. And I think these three rate up there with the all-time great war movies.

    Private Ryan has a stunningly bold and realistic opening battle sequence, and the rest is conventional, sugary -- and sucks, to be honest. Das Boot is a great flick, but I'd think of it more as a thriller/military actioner than as a serous war movie. Die Brucke to me is one of the greatest anti-war movies ever made. It's clearly an indictment not only of Nazi Germany, but also of war in general: of the fact that war takes the cream of male youth, and kills them.

    Maybe the jury's still out on The Pianist; too soon to say. I was deeply impressed. There was considerable debate about it on this website. For some the long wordless segment doesn't seem to work. It fits partly in the Holocaust category, and partly in the picaresque-muddling through (wartime branch) bio category, like Europa, Europa, or Kozinski's novel The Painted Bird. Some as a depiction of the Holocaust would prefer Schindler's List; but then others consider Schindler's List too specialized (and upbeat) a segment of the Holocaust. You can't please people on that topic, clearly.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,636
    For now I'll limit myself to Vietnam movies. Kudos to Johann for listing the forgotten 84 Charlie Mopic, in which the first-person p.o.v. is consistently used. Kudos to Chris for comments regarding Apocalypse Now, Born on the Fourth of July, The Deer Hunter and Coming Home. I actually think Born has enough going to recommend. I despise Hunter. Yes, it lies and manipulates. For me, it's a racist exploitation flick; an awarded, well-made one, which makes me hate it even more.
    Let's not forget a couple of docs. Hearts and Minds is a masterpiece. I also like Vietnam:Long Time Coming from the directors of Hoop Dreams. It's about vets from both sides getting together to bicycle the 1200 miles between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 11-20-2003 at 12:07 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,700
    Thanks. I don't know all the films that have been mentioned. I want only to add the The Deer Hunter is extremely disturbing to me because it is so powerful, and yet as you say it's racist and distorted. You can't dismiss a work of art that's accomplished just because its viewpoint is in some ways despicable, and The Deer Hunter isn't an isolated example. One might find Sam Fuller's approach to war dubious (as well as his approach to pretty much everything else!), and yet there's no doubt that he's a powerful filmmaker. You just have to present Cimino with huge caveats; you can't say his movie is without artistic merit, just an "exploitation flick." It's much more serous and artistic than that phrase implies. You yourself grant it's "well made." It's a lot more than just "well made." I basically agree with you, Oscar, on this, about being infuriated and deeply disturbed by Deer Hunter,but I think it's too easy a dismissal to call the film a "racist exploitation flick."
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 11-20-2003 at 01:32 AM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,636

    Kael on Nam Flix

    "Part of the widespread anticipation of Apocalypse Now was our readiness for a visionary, climactic, summing-up movie. Coppola must have felt that too, but he couldn't supply it. He got tied up in a knot of American self-hatred and guilt, and what the picture boiled down to was: White man_he devil. Since then, I think, people have expected less of movies and have been willing to settle for less. Some have even been willing to settle for Kramer vs. Kramer".


    "The Deer Hunter is a romantic adolescent boy's view of friendship, with the Vietnam War perceived in Victorian terms as a test of men's courage."
    "It's part of the narrowness of the film's vision that there is no suggestion that there ever was a sense of community among the Vietnamese which was disrupted. We are introduced to Asians by seeing a Vietcong soldier open the door of a shelter, find women and children cowering inside, and then thoughtfully lob in a grenade. The movie leaves the impression that if we did some bad things we did them ruthlessly but impersonally; the Vietcong were cruel and sadistic. Americans had no choice, but the V.C. enjoyed it. Everything that happens appears to be the result of Viet Cong atrocities."
    "Cimino is like Coppola without brains or sensibility."


    "We can surmise that Oliver Stone became a grunt in Vietnam to "become a man" and to become a writer. As Platoon, a coming-of-age film demonstrates, he went through the rite of passage, but, as Platoon also demonstrates, he became a very bad writer_a hype artist. Actually, he had already proven this with his crude scripts for Midnight Express and Scarface."
    "When he doesn't destroy things with the voice-over banalities or a square line of dialogue, he may do it with a florid gesture".
    "Stone's moviemaking suggests that he was a romantic loner who sought his manhood in the excitement of violent fantasy. Stone seems to want to get high on war, like Barnes".


    "Born on the 4th of July appears to be a pacifist movie, an indictment of all war. You can't be sure, because there's never a sequence where Ron figures out the war is wrong. The morality of taking up arms isn't really what the movie is about anyway. The audience is carried along by Tom Cruise's Ronnie yelling that his penis will never be hard again."
    "I don't think I've ever seen an epic about a bad loser".


    "Some movies_Grand Illusion and Shoeshine come to mind, can affect us in more direct, emotional ways than simple entertainment movies. They have more imagination, more poetry, more intensity than the usual fare; they have large themes and a vision. They can leave us feeling simultaneously elated and wiped out. Overwhelmed, we may experience a helpless anger if we hear people mock them or poke holes in them in order to dismiss them. Casualties of War has this kind of purity."

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Ottawa Canada
    Posts
    5,498

    Loving and hating Kael again

    Kael is such a joy and pain to read.

    If she aims her critical sights on you with "take down" on her mind, you get STOMPED. Man, she is unloading on Oliver in those bits. How about the films, Pauline?

    I think she hung out with Godard way too much....
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,700
    Brilliant. You know, I am a great admirer of Kael. You don't have to buy everything she says. But there is certainly a cheapness and crudeness about Stone very often. I don't see it so much in Platoon. In Platoon he outdid himself. There is a lot of insight here, even if she's also too dismissive of Coppola and Apocalypse Now. Apocalypse Now is visionary -- and haunting. "White man=he devil" is a gross oversimplification which would apply as well to Heart of Darkness, and as badly. Nonetheless the perception and boldness of these summings-up are very valuable.

    Where does this passage come from? Chapter and verse, please.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,636
    Glad y'guys enjoyed it. Chris, the excerpt regarding Apocalypse comes from an essay titled "Why are movies so bad? Or, The Numbers" that first appeared on the June 23,1980 issue of the New Yorker and was reprinted for Kael's book "Taking It All In". It includes a nasty put-down of Alien. But I think Johann likes it and I don't want to bring him pain. We're talkin' war films anyway.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,700
    Thank you. I see the A.N. passage is on p. 827 of the big Kael collection, For Keeps, and the Platoon passage is from her review of the movie (pp. 1122 ff. there) from Hooked , and. . . I guess the other passages are from her reviews of those movies, also anthologized in For Keeps, and it's got a good index. Thanks for calling these to our attention. The "nasty putdown" of Alien isn't so bad if you ask me: "It reached out, grabbed you, and squeezed your stomach; it was more gripping than entertaining, but a lot of people didn't mind. They thought it was terrific, because at least they'd felt something: they'd been brutalized..." etc.

    I prefer Aliens anyway, but this should cause no one any pain. We know the Alien series ain't high art, and we know Kael liked Robert Altman not Ridley Scott: she was unmoved (and unthrilled) by the high/low fun of Blade Runner too.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 11-21-2003 at 12:32 AM.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •