Sunday, July 6, 2014

Full Metal Jacket Review

I constantly debate myself over what war film I consider to be the greatest of all time. Despite witnessing many fantastic depictions over the years, in my world there are two options for such an honor: The Thin Red Line by Terrence Malick and Full Metal Jacket by Kubrick. Honestly, I am pretty sure that I award the prize to whichever I have seen more recently. As I sit here right now, it doesn't get any better than the amazing anti-war statement released by the greatest cinematic genius of all time, Stanley Kubrick.

I had to revisit this film tonight as I finished reading the novel it was adapted from earlier today, "The Short-Timers" by Gustav Hasford, and the book was nothing short of a literary masterpiece. Despite already knowing the film well and thus knowing what to expect, I had to put the book down at times because the lack of humanity on display was hard to swallow, but what made it resonate even deeper for me is that I always knew in my mind how realistic the awfulness being portrayed was. As a result of finally reading the source material, I now have a more intense love for this film as well because it is immensely difficult to adapt something so brilliant yet Kubrick seemingly did it with ease. The two together might be the greatest novel-film combination I have ever personally encountered.

I know many have a slight issue with Full Metal Jacket due to an imbalance in the quality of the two acts, but I actually completely disagree with this. The haunting depiction of boot camp and the mental breakdown of a marine in training is utterly spellbinding, but I don't consider it to actually be a stronger portion of the film than following Private Joker and the rest of the gang as they put their lives on the line in Vietnam. The two acts are completely different, yet they are also remarkably similar in that while one took place in a "safe" location and the other a war zone, the central theme of life in the military and war being senseless and moronic was evident throughout. For me, the entire experience of witnessing this film is perfect, beginning to end.


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