Taglines: In Vietnam the wind doesn’t blow. It sucks.
A two-segment look at the effect of the military mindset and war itself on Vietnam era Marines. The first half follows a group of recruits in boot camp under the command of the punishing Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. The second half shows one of those recruits, Joker, covering the war as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes, focusing on the Tet offensive.
Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 British-American war film directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay by Kubrick, Michael Herr, and Gustav Hasford was based on Hasford’s novel The Short-Timers (1979). The film stars Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood, Arliss Howard, Kevyn Major Howard, and Ed O’Ross.
Its storyline follows a platoon of U.S. Marines through their training and the experiences of two of the platoon’s Marines in the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. The film’s title refers to the full metal jacket bullet used by soldiers. The film was released in the United States on June 26, 1987.
About the Story
In 1967, during the Vietnam War, a group of new U.S. Marine Corps recruits arrive at Parris Island, South Carolina, for basic training. After having their heads shaved, they meet Senior Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, who employs forceful methods to turn the recruits into hardened, combat-ready Marines. Among the recruits are privates “Joker”, “Cowboy”, and the overweight, bumbling Leonard Lawrence, who earns the nickname “Gomer Pyle” after incurring Hartman’s wrath.
Unresponsive to Hartman’s discipline, Pyle is eventually paired with Joker. Pyle improves with Joker’s help, but his progress halts when Hartman discovers a contraband jelly doughnut in Pyle’s foot locker. Believing the recruits have failed to improve Pyle, Hartman adopts a collective punishment policy: every mistake Pyle makes will earn punishment for the rest of the platoon, with Pyle being spared. In retaliation for Pyle’s failures, the platoon hazes him with a blanket party, restraining him in his bunk while beating him with bars of soap wrapped in towels. After this incident, Pyle reinvents himself as a model Marine. This impresses Hartman but worries Joker, who recognizes signs of mental breakdown in Pyle, such as him talking to his M14 rifle.
Following their graduation, the recruits receive their Military Occupational Specialty assignments; Joker is assigned to Basic Military Journalism, while most of the others (including Cowboy and Pyle) are assigned to Infantry. During the platoon’s final night on Parris Island, Joker discovers Pyle in the bathroom, loading his rifle with live ammunition. Joker attempts to calm Pyle, who executes drill commands and loudly recites the Rifleman’s Creed. The noise awakens the platoon, and Hartman, who confronts Pyle and orders him to surrender the rifle. Pyle shoots Hartman dead, and then kills himself.
In January 1968, Joker, now a corporal, is a war correspondent in South Vietnam for Stars and Stripes with Private First Class Rafterman, a combat photographer. Rafterman wants to go into combat, as Joker claims he has done. At the Marine base, Joker is mocked for his lack of the thousand-yard stare, indicating his lack of war experience. They are interrupted by the start of the Tet Offensive as the North Vietnamese Army attempts to overrun the base, but are rebuffed.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood, Arliss Howard, Kevyn Major Howard, Ed O’Ross, John Terry, Kieron Jecchinis
Screenplay by: Stanley Kubrick
Production Design by: Anton Furst
Cinematography by: Douglas Milsome
Film Editing by: Martin Hunter
Costume Design by: Keith Denny
Set Decoration by: Barbara Drake
Art Direction by: Barbara Drake
Music by: Vivian Kubrick
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures (United States)
Release Date: June 26, 1987