June 26, 2022, marks the 35th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking film Full Metal Jacket. If you’ve never seen it before, we suggest you consider watching it because once you do, it will leave you speechless.
It’s a harrowing story about the Vietnam War that depicts the brutality and reality of war and its effect on the human mind. Don’t worry, though, because it will also bring you nostalgic moments and music from the late 1960s. Whether for the war or against it, this movie will give you a look at how things really are in combat. So, without further ado, let’s discuss this fascinating and all-too-distressing film.
The Cast of “Full Metal Jacket”
The Full Metal Jacket release date was June 26, 1987, making 2022 the 35th anniversary of the film. The movie takes place in the late 1960s during the Vietnam War. At the beginning of the movie, we are introduced to the first few members of the Full Metal Jacket cast: Matthew Modine as Private/Sergeant J.T. “Joker” Davis, Vincent D’Onofrio as Private Leonard “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence, Arliss Howard as “Cowboy” Evans, and Lee Ermey as Full Metal Jacket Drill Sergeant Hartman.
In the latter half of the film, which follows Private Joker on his future endeavors in Vietnam, we are introduced to a few more characters: Adam Baldwin as Animal Mother, Kevyn Major Howard as Rafterman, Dorian Harewood as Eightball, and Tim Colceri as Doorgunner.
“Full Metal Jacket” Synopsis
Originally based on a novel titled The Short-Timers by the late Gustav Hasford, a.k.a. the real Joker, the movie is guaranteed to make you ponder the harsh realities of war.
Full Metal Jacket is Stanley Kubrick’s take on the Vietnam War that accompanies the bright Private Davis, aka “Joker,” and rotund Private Lawrence, nicknamed “Gomer Pyle” by foul-mouthed Drill Sergeant Hartman. The film takes us through the rigors of basic training, where we see Pyle slowly lose his humanity and take a surprising detour.
Joker makes it through basic training and graduates to the Marine Corps. He is dispatched to Vietnam as a journalist, covers the war, and eventually participates in the ferocious Battle of Hué.
What Happens in the “Full Metal Jacket” Movie?
Without giving much away, let’s look at a few qualities of the characters and the initial conflicts that make the movie so intriguing. Part of what makes the film so special is how convincing some of the characters are and how much you get to know them, which only adds more weight to the realities of war.
At the film’s beginning, the storyline follows a platoon of U.S. Marines throughout boot camp and Vietnam.
The first half of the movie takes place in basic training, where we are exposed to the cold-blooded and inhumane treatment of troops by Drill Sergeant Hartman. Throughout basic training, Hartman breaks the recruits down in hopes of turning them into “killing machines,” which, let’s just say, has a profound effect on some of the enlistees. He does this by any means necessary. Whether it be crude insults or physical assault, Hartman is willing to go the extra mile to prove a point.
Full Metal Jacket Private Pyle, the overweight and intellectually disabled recruit, bears the brunt of Sergeant Hartman’s cruel teachings and insults. Instead of discharging Pyle, Hartman exemplifies him by destroying him mentally and physically.
The only thing Pyle has going for him is his impeccable aim and marksmanship, which eventually comes back to haunt him. Following this is just one of the many iconic Full Metal Jacket quotes or insults directed at Private Pyle that cause him to go insane, “Were you born a fat, slimy, scumbag puke piece o’ sh*t, Pvt. Pyle, or did you have to work on it?” Sounds pretty bad, right? Well, that’s actually one of the nicer insults from Hartman.
Next, we have Private Joker, the cool, calm, and collected recruit who moves up the ranks quickly in boot camp and is forced to whip Private Pyle into shape. Joker is the star of the film and is one of the only Marines to keep his head screwed on straight all the way ‘til the end.
Private Joker eventually graduates to the Marines, where he is sent to Vietnam. During his time there, he does his best to stay out of the “sh*it” and stay safe. Unfortunately, the battle finds him, and he is forced to do what he was taught to do: be a killing machine.
Even the film’s beginning is quite traumatizing and fascinating, but it’s nothing compared to the end. Of course, we aren’t going to spoil the movie for you here, so if you’re interested in where to watch Full Metal Jacket, you can watch it on Netflix, Apple TV, and Vudu Movie.
What Does Full Metal Jacket Mean?
Many want to know, “What is a full metal jacket?” Kubrick titled the movie Full Metal Jacket after the bullet. FMJ’s are small projectiles equipped with a soft core and encased with a hard outer shell known as the bullet’s jacket. The purpose of an FMJ is to hold trajectory and penetrate soft tissue easily. Not only that, but it’s the type of bullet Gomer Pyle and Joker are equipped with during basic training.
Happy 35th Anniversary to an Iconic Film
Full Metal Jacket is just one of those movies that sticks with you forever after you watch it. It shows how different basic training used to be in the Marines during the late 1960s and takes you on a wild experience through Vietnam and the Battle of Hué. It also does an excellent job of highlighting the brutal nature of warfare and how it can cause people to do the unthinkable, further solidifying our need to honor, help, and respect our nation’s Veterans.
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