‘Full Metal Jacket’ Movie Review

September 7, 2022

“War is hell,” a helicopter gunner answers matter-of-factly to a combat reporter as he finishes mowing down innocent Vietnamese farmers. It is an ugly truth that the conditions of survival, when coordinated at such massive industrial scales, creates a moment in American History which has been canonized by Filmmakers of great renown. In Mr. Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, we have a median of brutal nature with human tragedy. The film quietly garners sympathetic appreciation for such unrelentless arbitrary power caused by man-made forces occurring decades, if not almost a century, before any of these young men are thrown into the frenzy of defeating the Communist Revolution.


We are given, in other words, less cinematic mystique and a more intimate understanding of the natural survival conditions that are imposed upon the bodies of these young men struggling to adapt. In those unnatural conditions, what ends up supreme but thuggish authority which rivals the likes of Communist Dictatorships? It cannot be helped that during the marvelously staged scenery, we are given a ubiquitous image of the “Dear Leader” the Vietnamese peasant farmers will die for. A purpose. A cause. But is it a just one?


And this is where we can be grateful of removing subjective interpretations of a just war and deal with the authentication of, not a historical reality, but a physical one, transcendental to any possible motion human beings will ever produce. And it is this reality which the young men are being stressed by, toward what effects? Just as naively as the unspoken Viet is for the desire to kill for justice.


Meanwhile, the beginning bootcamp imposes upon us the dire need for survival conditions the young boys have never endured before. The need to defend one’s own life as necessary to defend the platoon, corp, bridage, etc. The remarkable feat in understanding American military discipline is in the, beyond worthiness, but imperative of the soldier to be a unit by himself, to hold his steady unless given the permission to be killed. Because in war, sacrificing one’s body is necessary to win. The military with the most willing to die for the cause will often have the greatest morale, which changes the tides between victory and defeat.


It is in this brute fact ordering of the human being which yields such inner dialogue which the film captures unironically: that certain men can be aware that they are in the process of making history. It is that grasp, that gathering of self-certainty in one’s own providence in Nature, as reflected in human memory as history, which is self-evident and provides a degree of confidence, of pride, of honor that one is being all that one can be.


But is history being written by the just? What is so often neglected in Vietnam War filmmaking eyesight is the timeline of the Communist Revolt, as it spills over the entire world, to create a necessary counterbalancing force in the United States of America. The discontent with American soldiery, nay, the loss of American life, to defend a sovereign state from the aggrandizement of human corruption all over the globe, will likely be relational to the atheistic scourge and internal communist sympathizers in the rational faculties of the civilized state – mass media inclusive – than actual young American motivations. How rarely is it presented in film a pride, an honor, in defeating a counter-natural power which will stop at nothing at achieving global brutal tyranny, the kind which the United States explicitly prohibits in its Constitutional Agreement (see Amendment VII)? By this very deduction, is the USA not defending its own sovereign contract with such extraneous involvements in Korea, Vietnam, and Latin America? Did American soldiers die in vain?


As mentioned, Full Metal Jacket does not care about such thoughts. Its main draw is in the naked exposure to the psyche of vicious struggle, far removed from soap operas and Campbell’s tomato soup.



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