U.K.-U.S.A. • 1987 • COLOUR • 35MM • 116 MIN

‘How did Kubrick do that?’ asked Hollywood warrior-director Samuel Fuller, haunted by the look of raw hatred in the eyes of the Vietnamese sniper towards the end of this film: not the only face in a Kubrick movie to radiate unimaginable horrors.
Full Metal Jacket is his most ruthless dissection of the mentality of war. The first part details a brutal training programme designed to transform young Marines into killing machines: one of them malfunctions and unloads what he has learnt on his instructor and then on himself. The second part sees the soldiers in Vietnam and will build relentlessly towards a similar climax where they come face to face with the unhinged ferocity that war generates and the lobotomising of their own humanity. Superbly acted by Matthew Modine (Joker), Lee Ermey (the drill sergeant) and Vincent D’Onofrio (Private Pyle), the film is utterly uncompromising in its depiction of warped masculinity, the madness of command and the grisly fight for survival in a devastated world. Hell must look and feel something like this.

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