Full Metal Jacket - Anniversary Edition
Starting with "2001: A Space Odyssey" in the late 1960s and running up to his death upon completion of "Eyes Wide Shut" in 1999, Stanley Kubrick created a run of films that emphasized his meticulous compositions, his constantly subversive thematic aims, and his cold and analytic approach to depicting cinema. They were his masterpieces. "Full Metal Jacket" was one of those films.
All of Kubrick’s movies begin with a ’brain’, and end with its destruction. This can be literal, as with HAL the computer in "2001," or it can be allegorical, like with the Overlook Hotel, its control of its inhabitants, and its eventual demise in "The Shining." But in "Full Metal Jacket," the entire point - the whole structure of the film, really - is about this myth of intelligence and control, and the inevitable carnage that brings it down.
Ditching the moral posturing and pontifications that drove his earlier war picture, "Paths of Glory," Kubrick here aims not at how war should be but rather at depicting what it’s actually like. So half the film is not set on the battleground, but in basic training - where the ’brain’ of a collective killer, cold and uncontemplative, is formed in our group of military grunts and trainees. Of course, no amount of training and dehumanization can keep them from freaking out once they reach the battleground - the second half is the destruction of ideals, of hope, of the idea of individuality itself. Dark and violent, with one of the most cynical closing moments in the history of cinema, "Jacket" isn’t for everyone. But I’ll be damned if it isn’t a perfect film.
Warner Bros. new 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition is housed in a large book-type packaging, with the two discs separated by a large collection of essays and personal photos taken during the shoot. The new edition to the last release’s collection of extras is ’Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes,’ a documentary featuring the study and cataloging of Kubrick’s innumerable keepsakes and film-related files. It’s overwhelming simply to watch someone else dig through all this stuff; and there’s a number of intriguing tidbits you won’t find anywhere else that makes this extra well worth watching.
Kubrick films are not for everyone. They are exacting by design, and withhold the exact type of emotional catharsis, the sense of endearing oneself to the audience, that most other films live and die by. "Full Metal Jacket" is war as viewed by a man who no longer cared to educate, but rather only wanted to inform. War is hell. So, by proxy, so is "Full Metal Jacket."
"Full Metal Jacket"