Sunday, November 11, 2018

FULL METAL JACKET (Stanley Kubrick, 1987, USA)


“I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door and it has been painted black
Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts
It’s not easy facin’ up when your whole world is black”
-Paint It, Black (The Rolling Stones)
 
 
The malleable cores of young men are cloaked in metal, their soft hearts made hard to kill, their whole world painted black. Director Stanley Kubrick is not concerned with an authentic representation of the Vietnam War; he purposely disassembles genre conventions and recreates a violent parable that reflects the interior conflict of soldiers with use of hyperrealism and grotesque pathos. This dissociative identity of the film’s structure is apparent from the opening sequence where we see military recruits being shorn like sheep: instead of Jimmy Hendrix or CCR underscoring the scenario we get Johnny Wright! The use of popular music is a viscous counterpoint to the action, indirectly creating a vertiginous sense of confusion and puzzlement, a purposeful aural dichotomy that is subliminally meant to heighten anxiety and deconstruct expectations.

Kubrick splits the film in two, from Paris Island to the crowded streets of Vietnam with an effective fade to black. While at Paris island, Gunnery Sgt. Hartman begins his campaign of dehumanization and habilitation, the recruits castrated by their absurd patriarch who holds complete dominion over them. These boys are relegated to caricatures, their actual names forgotten (or never revealed), and by Christening them Hartman molds them into weapons of flesh and bone. Their juvenile fantasies are replaced by strict discipline barked from a rabid dog, and while losing their individuality they are either subsumed into the larger organism…or self-destruct.

JUMP CUT: Vietnam and our protagonist Joker and his buddy Rafterman, reporters for Stars and Stripes whose half-truths and fairy tales are fodder for grunts. The Film has no driving narrative force, there is no intrinsic goal or destination: it is only a scrapbook of deathly scenarios, a burlesque of Thanatos. Kubrick dresses the dioramas in fiery detail that are haunted by the ghosts of young men, the poetic dialogue carrying its own ghastly rhythm of the damned. The grunts hump their way through Hue city and Joker is finally baptized in blood and guts, his morality anaesthetized. Finally, grim silhouettes stalk the Perfume River inhaling its decaying aroma, chanting the theme song to The Mickey Mouse Club: they have regressed into adolescent fantasies and childhood memories in order to retain their sanity. But they have learned one important truth: The dead know only one thing…it is better to be alive.

Final Grade: (A+)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

KUBRICK --as is every Hollywood director- - is a SPOOK

It is evident even from Kubrick's earliest work that he was 'on board' with 'men are pigs' and POST America
demoralization ops.

LOLITA was key to 'men are pigs'

STRANGELOVE was sending up the cold war nuke terror - - HOAX

2001 was laying out the propaganda HOAX of space and space travel while --simultaneously selling the
treadmill romance of going absolutely NOWHERE

SHINING was a lay out, in allegory form, of the subversion of first ENGLAND and then the US
by intergenerational USURY - - -applied guilt and manipulated shame

FULL METAL JACKET was dealing with the unfold of INTEL's before birth subverted FTMs
along with the largely PHONY Vietnam demoralization op

And throughout we have the under the radar FTM reality alluded to

YOU STAND FULLY ALERTED