Full Metal Jacket has been telling us about the true face of the company for 35 years

Full Metal Jacket has been telling us about the true face of the company for 35 years

When it arrived in the hall, Full Metal Jacket left the audience and critics stunned. It was a unique film, it was immediately understood, a journey into that Vietnam war about which it was thought that more or less everything had already been said with Coppola's Apocalypse Now, about that lost generation in the jungle of Southeast Asia. But no, he thought of creating an atypical and shocking war movie, far from the many filled with rhetoric we have known. But looking at it more carefully, today we realize that in reality that film was not about that war, at least not only. He spoke of violence in society and in history, of the immutability of mankind, which has always loved to shed the blood of its fellow man like nothing else.

"Crepi Ho chi Minh long live the Marine Corps!" Born to kill, this is the title of the novel by Gustav Hasford from which Kubrick decided to draw inspiration to create a film, which followed the path of some soldiers enlisted in the Marine Corps.

We have been following them for 35 years in the barracks of Paris Island, then in Vietnam about to be devastated by the Tet Offensive, and finally on the front line that led to the sacred city of Huế, one of the worst meat houses in that war front.

Contrary to what many may think, the film was not shot in Asia or South America, but at the London Studios, importing hundreds of palm trees to be placed in the London suburbs and then in Sussex. But such and such was the skill of the staging created by Kubrick, that no one or almost no one noticed it. Indeed, even today it is indicated as one of the most faithful films for what concerned the fight on that cursed and terrifying front, where death could arrive in the most absurd and unpredictable ways.

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Full Metal Jacket has always been mistaken for a pure and simple war film, when instead it is above all a film about war, about what it is it means in society and in human civilizations, but above all on the process through which men like the Marines have been created for centuries. The protagonist was the soldier Joker, on that Kubrick thanks to a robust interpretation by Matthew Modine, structured what was basically a symbol of pure and simple rebellion against the system. That system had many sounds, many voices and faces, the most iconic being that of Drill Sergeant Hartman, but the fanatical officers and cruel and sadistic comrades also helped give us a snapshot of the lack of logic of war.

And we, walking with Joker among rubble and bodies, have been able for 35 years to fully understand the ultimate and supreme truth about an armed conflict, the one that Hollywood poets and directors have long wanted to hide from us: war is based on a total lack of responsibility.

In spite of the apparent and perfect hierarchy, of the orders given and delivered, of the uniforms, no plan survives the War, it can be deduced for Kubrick that chaos is the only real constant.

If looking at Full Metal Jacket you often burst out laughing, don't worry, you are not sadistic nor do you have any problems related to empathy or morality. Kubrick, as he often loved to do, also in that film inserted a soul of simply sensational black humor, capable of generating an alienating and grotesque atmosphere. In a certain sense he enjoyed playing with the sensitivity of his audience, with his modesty and empathy as he did on other occasions.

The very symbol of the military creed

All to his greatest glory, by Sergeant Hartman, played by Ronald Lee Ermey (and masterfully voiced in Italian by Eros Pagni), one who the recruits of the Marine Corps had trained them for a long time, and from that very role he was launched towards a tasty career as a character actor. It is said that Kubrick decided to give him the role of Hartman when Ermey, impatient by the director's opinionated attitude, began to yell at him with his colorful barracks language. Said-done, he was chosen to be essentially himself. Because even today Sergeant Hartman contains everything that is necessary to understand of that parallel world called the army, of its ultimate purpose: "The Marine Corps does not want robots, it wants killers".

At some point, during training, Joker realizes it: the Marines are normal men, they are not monsters or the like. They have been totally destroyed and then rebuilt to dispense death, using every fiber of one's intelligence and being for this purpose. To achieve this, Sergeant Hartman from the beginning eliminates his personality, individualism is essentially banished, one is all dressed the same, combed the same and what one was before is completely erased starting from his name.

A bit like it happened with the Vikings, the recruits are given a new one, which, for better or worse, identifies them but only in relation to that new universe to which they belong. Joker, Snow White, Stink-of-Feet, Cowboy ... and then him, Lard Ball.

Vincent d’Onofrio was nothing short of monumental. With 30 kg more on him, he became the symbol of the many that the system, whether called army, society or collectivity, still destroys today because they are different from the norm, not aligned, not productive for the purposes of a sort of sado-maso-mortuary creed. br>
His slow slide into alienation, madness, and the final murder-suicide go beyond the diegetic moment as an end in itself, they are a symbol, a terrifying metaphor of the transformation from civilian to soldier , of the total difference of values ​​that separates these two worlds.

Up to that moment, no one had shown all this, no one had made it clear how the training acted limitedly on the body, rather it concentrated on the minds of the soldiers, on the values ​​that harbored them.

Society's use of violence

Vietnam by Stanley Kubrick is a chaos made up of prostitutes, ambushes, rubble and gunshots. There in the middle Joker moves like a cork agitated on the sea of ​​history, perfectly aware of his total vulnerability, but still determined to preserve his soul, his dignity. Vitriolic jokes that have become legendary, the atrocious sequence of the sniper among the ruins, the subjective overview of the various marines staring at death ... one still risks getting lost in the admirable diegetic construction and not grasping how Kubrick wants to talk to us about violence and how society uses it in a coldly cynical and utilitarian way.

From A Clockwork Orange to Spartacus, from Horizons of Glory to Fear and Desire, from Barry Lyndon to Doctor Strangelove, it was something that Stanley Kubrick has always tried to analyze.

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Here too, we feel we are at the center of a sort of autopsy of collective non-intelligence, of the same terrifying hypocrisy described by Coppola.

You can't write bad words, but it is considered absolutely normal to take any boys, rob them to zero and turn them into men for whom strafing civilians from a helicopter is as much fun as any.

Full Metal Jacket told us about the immutability of human behavior, both at a micro and macro level. Men like Animal Mother or Sergeant Hartman will always exist, because war will always exist, inherent in our existence, in our species, in civilization in perennial contrast between harmony and destruction, yin and yang. Here then is that Joker, rebellious, endowed with a critical sense, culture and empathy, appears as out of place and doomed to defeat, as essential for the purposes of a continuation of human consciousness.

Kubrick does not believe in humanity, he basically despises the community as the stupid and dangerous animal that he is. Rather, he believes in individuals as Nietzsche did, as another great director of wars and soldiers like Ridley Scott has always done: for them salvation walks alongside men different from the norm such as Joker or Massimo Decimo Meridio. They are the only ones who even when helpless in the face of horror, if nothing else, have the will not to be like others, the perfect vision of where they are, of the only thing they can do at that moment: in the case of that boy. with glasses, it's about surviving dead friends and getting back to her "Mary Jane". \

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