Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket is a somewhat realistic film. The movie creates a very disturbing and realistic picture of the Vietnam War not through historical accuracy or sensitive treatment of characters, but by presenting a series of situations that span an entire war. It seems as if these situations were the experiences of one set of recruits from start to finish. In this file there are no full-blown characters and they are never developed enough for one to become the center of attention.
They are also called by nick names rather than revealing their names to allow the audience to develop a personal link with any individual character. The Marines are just that, Marines, not people; In a more conventional film, the Marines might be people in the beginning and anonymous killers by the end. In Full Metal Jacket the Marines are anonymous recruits in the beginning and anonymous killers in the end. And the viewer gets to see the transformation from anonymous recruit to killer because the film starts in boot camp rather than in the field.Order now
The film begins at the beginning, showing the recruits at boot camp and shows the recruits follow through to the war. In the beginning scenes where it shows the recruits going through an obstacle course Kubrick edits the scenes so the viewer sees the repetition of physical activities to indicate the endurance needed to make it through boot camp. The boot camp segment of the film relentlessly cuts from one activity to another, allowing little time for the viewer to think about what is happening. In this scene Kubrick cuts scenes very fast and showing only short clips of what the men are doing.
This cutting from one scene to the next shows the harshness of boot camp and avoids the need to reveal the information in more obvious terms. Very little is said about boot camp and it is almost all visual not very many words are spoken during this scene. The mise-en-scene of the obstacle course scene is very full and contains a lot of objects in the frame leaving very small empty spaces. The frame for this scene is a close up of Pile himself and seems to be a very narrow point of view on every thing that is actually going on around him.
The main focus in this scene happens to be Pile who cannot seem to get anything right and cannot make it over the top of one of the obstacles. It focuses on him climbing up and cannot get over the top. While he is climbing down there are other marines climbing up around him in the middle ground, along with the Drill Sargent constantly yelling and forcing him to get down because he is a failure. While in the background you see the greenery of the forest and other parts of the obstacle course with the rest of the platoon going through it.
The lighting in this scene seems to be natural light that is coming from the cloudy day. The cinematography of this scene is basically a long take, lasting about 40 seconds, of Pile climbing up and down the ladder in the obstacle. This up close shot of him climbing up the ladder shows his struggle and his effort that he is putting in to try to get over the top. This effort is shown because in the close up you can see the struggle on his face and the mass amount of sweat on his body. This in a way allows the view to up close see what the person is going through.
In the frame of the shot you basically see the ladder the Pile is climbing down. The actual poles that make the ladder are on the out side vertical parts of the frame while the steps of the ladder are on the horizontal part of the frame. The background of the shot is colorful with the mix of the trees of a forest and grayness of the cloudy sky. The style throughout half of the movie is completely different than the other half. In one half it show the recruits being under control and learning to obey and follow the rules.
This is shown by the Drill Sergeant forcing his authority on the recruits and punishing them for not obeying. Whereas in the later half of the movie we see them have any thing but control by not listening to orders of their superior. As in the sniper scene where one man is sent out to scout out the area and the other are told to stay back when he gets shot. The men don”t listen to their commanding authority. Also there is the helicopter scene where the gunner of the helicopter is shooting innocent people and acts as if it is a normal thing.