[box cover]

Full Metal Jacket

The Stanley Kubrick Collection (2001)

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Barry Lyndon
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Dr. Strangelove: Special Edition
  • Eyes Wide Shut
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • Lolita
  • The Shining
  • Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures
  • Full Metal Jacket, Stanley Kubrick's 1987 contribution to the Vietnam film genre, is essentially two movies. The engrossing first 45 minutes are set in a Parris Island boot camp, where aspiring Marines are disciplined and berated by vociferous Gunnery Sgt. Hartman (R. Lee Ermey). Although much of what Kubrick depicts here has been done before, his take strays from the popular Hollywood concept that military training builds character and produces better people. Sgt. Hartman has no such goal — he only wants to create killers (and even uses Lee Harvey Oswald as an example of what "one highly motivated Marine and his rifle can do.") But in the case of one Private Leonard Lawrence (Vincent D'Onofrio), an overweight screw-up nicknamed "Gomer Pyle," there are serious flaws exposed in this dehumanizing approach, as he descends into an obsessive paranoia that resists all military conditioning. The rest of the film follows Private T.J. Davis (Matthew Modine), a.k.a. "Joker," from Sgt. Hartman's barracks to his role as a Stars and Stripes journalist in the heat of the Vietnam conflict (mostly shot in and around London, believe it or not). Unusually unfocused for a Kubrick film, this latter two-thirds of Full Metal Jacket dawdles dully and aimlessly around the idea that soldiers are forced to approach the war with irony to protect themselves from it, but that defense wears thin at dire moments. Surely a lesser addition to Kubrick's canon, and nowhere near the statement on Vietnam as better films Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter. Warner's June 2001 DVD re-release of Full Metal Jacket replaces their June 1999 disc with a new transfer from their "2000 digital master" print, and it is an improvement, with a crisp, damage-free picture and vivid color. The transfer is still an open-matte full-frame, in accordance with Kubrick's wishes for home-video presentation, although its intended theatrical aspect ratio for U.S. audiences was 1.85:1 (1.66:1 for Europe). Audio has also been improved from Kubrick's mono (the director distrusted multi-channel sound) to a new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which is dynamic and clear. Supplements have not changed, with the theatrical trailer as the solitary extra. Snap-case.
    —Gregory P. Dorr



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