Full Metal Jacket (1987)

 ●  English ● 1 hr 56 mins

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This gritty war story begins by following the trials and tribulations of a platoon of fresh Marine Corps recruits, with a special focus on the tenuous relationship between the cold-hearted and brutal Gunnery Sergeant Hartman and Privates Pyle and Joker. The rigours and brutality of the training camp for Marine recruits slowly turn the young men grow into an instrument of death, as Hartman has foreseen of all of his recruits. Through Pyle's torment and Joker's unwillingness to stand up against it the climax of part one is achieved with all three main characters deciding their fates by their action or inaction. The second chapter delves into Joker's psyche and the repeated referral to the fact that he joined the Corps to become a killer. When his mostly behind the scenes job as a combat correspondent is interfered with by the Tet offensive he is thrust into real combat and ultimately must decide if he really is a killer.
See Storyline (May Contain Spoilers)

Cast: Matthew Modine

Crew: Stanley Kubrick (Director), Douglas Milsome (Director of Photography), Vivian Kubrick (Music Director)

Rating: A (India)

Genres: Drama, War

Release Dates: 10 Jul 1987 (India)

Tagline: Born to Kill.

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Did you know? Stanley Kubrick was well known for having a very small crew on set. On one occasion, after the electrician finished lighting a set, Kubrick told him, "Okay, this is how I want the scene lit and I'm not going to change it." Kubrick then sent the man to fix some wiring in his house. Read More
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Director of Photography


Music Director


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Costume Designer


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Born to Kill.
Vietnam can kill me, but it can't make me care.
In Vietnam The Wind Doesn't Blow It Sucks.
One rifle, one gun. One for killing, one for fun.
Audio/Video Mismatch
When Animal calls to Cowboy to bring the squad in and find the sniper, Rafterman turns to Cowboy and speaks a complete sentence, but the sound has been cut and replaced with a comment by Cowboy.

Audio/Video Mismatch
When Doc Jay is in the far back of the squad yelling to Cowboy that he is going to bring Eightball in, his mouth doesn't match up to what he says.

Audio/Video Mismatch
In most scenes, the movement of Animal's machine gun and the ejected casings indicate that he's holding down the trigger, but the sound indicates that he's firing short bursts.

Audio/Video Mismatch
When Joker and Cowboy are in the head mopping the floor, Cowboy moves the mop bucket that is supposed to have water in it. When Cowboy sits the bucket down back on the floor, you can tell by the sound of it that the bucket is empty.

Character Error
When crossing the crossing bars, the recruits are told that it should take no less than ten seconds to navigate this particular obstacle. He should have said that it should take no more than ten seconds.

Character Error
When Cowboy has finished asking for tank backup on the radio, he makes the common Hollywood mistake of saying "over and out" rather than the correct "out". "Over" means handing over to the other party to receive their transmission. "Out" means you have finished the conversation.

Character Error
When the Marines are on the rifle range for the first time, there is a drill instructor checking a weapon. However, he fails to keep the weapon pointed DOWN range, which is a major safety violation.

Character Error
When Joker talks to Lt. Cleves at the mass grave, he introduces himself as "Sergeant Joker". However in an earlier scene (the editing meeting for Stars and Stripes) Joker wears the rank insignia of a Corporal on the collar of his shirt.

When Hartmann slaps Pyle during the drill & comp scene, the second marine in formation behind Pyle is played by two different actors between cuts of Hartmann slapping Pyle with his right hand and Hartmann slapping Pyle with his left hand.

When Joker and his photographer travel in a Sikorsky UH-34 helicopter to report on the action at the front, there are several exterior shots of the trees rushing by underneath them. During these shots, the shadow is of a Bell Jet Ranger, a different, newer helicopter.

When Pvt. Pyle is on the range, the bandage keeps changing between being on his right wrist (close-up, when shooting) and left wrist (camera pulled back, re-loading).

Immediately after the "This is my rifle, this is my gun" scene, the recruits are drilling and it is obvious their shirt collars are unbuttoned. In the Marine Corps, recruits do not unbutton their collars until they qualify at the rifle range. Soon after, their collars are buttoned and remain so until after they qualify on the rifle range.

Upon the initial attack at Hue City, many of the soldier's "bullets" are inconsistent with the actual line of fire. Sometimes the buildings show bullet impacts before the weapons are fired, while at other times, the weapons are fired with a clear line to the buildings, yet no impact craters or impact damage and smoke is seen - evidence that the soldiers are firing blanks.

When Crazy Earl holds his rifle up after the initial attack on Hue City, the magazine disappears between shots.

When Eightball ducks behind the debris to inform Cowboy of their misdirection in Hue City, a handle on his back pack is seen leaning against his gun in one shot. In the next shot, the handle is nowhere to be seen.

When Joker is being questioned by the POG colonel about the peace sign button on his uniform, the peace sign button disappears between shots.

When Hartmann is making the speech in the barracks on Christmas Day, he walks to the end of the room, turns, and begins walking back, continuing his speech to the recruits. If you pay attention to the recruits standing to the side, you will notice that after Hartmann turns and walks back, he is still walking in the same direction as he was before.

At the beginning when the Marine recruits are being lectured and/or questioned by Hartmann by their bunks, Cowboy's, Joker's, Pyle's and another's (possibly Snowball's) bunks change position relative to one another. In fact, it seems that this is a constant continuity problem when the Marines are depicted in the barracks.

Pyle's hat when he is being slapped by Hartmann.

The shape of Private Joker's flashlight beam as he enters the head to confront Pyle.

When Hartman inspects Private Pyle's rifle, he opens the chamber twice.

The direction of the smoke from the burning buildings changes between shots in the ruins of Hue.

Crew/Equipment Visible
When the camera pans up from the sniper's position at Hue City, a crew member is seen running towards the building.

Crew/Equipment Visible
When the men are running forward and singing "eskimo pussy is mighty cold" a crew members shadow is briefly visible in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

Crew/Equipment Visible
When Joker and Rafterman meet Lt.Touchdown, camera shadow is visible in the lower left, on the road where the tanks go by.

Crew/Equipment Visible
During the beginning of the sniper scene Cowboy tells members of his squad that they're moving up to Animal Mother to kill the sniper. As they approach, the camera follows them from behind, then switches to a side view tracking shot. In some versions of the film, about 5-8 seconds into this sequence, a member of the crew wearing jeans can be seen ducking low.

Errors in Geography
In numerous scenes marines are seen wearing stateside black leather boots. The jungle boot, with its green nylon and cleated sole was more suited for tropical weather and humidity. The stateside boot would have been impractical for the field and uncomfortable. Only recently arrived marines from stateside would have worn them until issued the correct jungle boot.

Errors in Geography
Road markings indicate the filming location (England), not Parris Island, South Carolina.

Errors in Geography
In the first shot of the graduation from the Parris Island one can see tall trees and buildings in the background, but during the close shot there are only small trees with no buildings. It's because the first shot was an actual shot from the graduation and the second one was shot in London.

Factual Mistake
On several occasions, the word "repeat" is used while speaking on the radio. In the Marine Corps, the use of the word "repeat" on the radio is reserved solely for talking to artillery units to request a repeat of the last fire mission. The term used would be: "say again your last" or "I say again."

Factual Mistake
Cowboy, as a Texan, would have been trained at MCRD San Diego, not MCRD Parris Island.

Factual Mistake
At the conclusion of the Colonel's questioning of Joker in front of the mass grave, the Colonel salutes Joker. Apart from being improper for an officer to salute an enlisted man, salutes are not rendered in a combat operations area, due to snipers actively seeking officers as targets.

Factual Mistake
The Doorgunner (Tim Colceri) is wearing a tank crewman's crash-helmet, not a helicopter crewman's crash-helmet. It's much smaller, is not the correct color (it should be white), and it lacks a retractable glare visor.

Factual Mistake
In one of the Boot Camp scenes, the platoon is shown running in formation. Several of the major characters are at the head of the formation, including Private Pyle. However, the farthest right position (which would become the column head after a right face) is reserved for squad leaders. There is no way that Private Pyle would have been in the position of squad leader, and he would therefore have been further back in the ranks.

Factual Mistake
Many of the Marines who are advancing on Hue City have their index fingers on the triggers of their M16 rifles and M60 machine guns. This is a violation of the first rule of firearms safety, which every Marine learns in boot camp: "Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target."

Factual Mistake
During the Vietnam segment most of the Marines are seen armed with the Colt Model 604, notable for its lack of a forward assist, this is incorrect as they were only ever used by the USAF. The Marines should be using the M16A1 which was universally issued to the Army and Marine Corps in 1967, replacing the prototype XM16E1 and the M14.

Factual Mistake
Most, if not all, of the grenades the Marines are carrying are illumination grenades, not fragmentation.

Factual Mistake
When Private Pyle is shooting live rounds during a target practice drill he is seen reloading the weapon with a new magazine. The old magazine, however, is shown to have at least one round left in it which is an error (counting bullets) the strict Sergeant Hartman would most likely not have Pyle get away with.

Factual Mistake
It is doubtful that Marines would identify themselves by their nicknames when asked by a superior to state their name. This error happens more than once.

Revealing Mistakes
The dead NVA soldier that they're posing in a chair can be seen breathing throughout the scene.

Revealing Mistakes
All of the palm trees look exactly the same with manicured trunks and a few wilted palm fronds coming out the top.

Revealing Mistakes
During the December 25 training sequence along the camp roads and through the woods, you can see the trees and other vegetation are in full bloom. Since their training is 13 weeks long, even in South Carolina during the December and even November, the tree's and vegetation would be bare and the grass would be brownish and it would be cold enough that the soldiers would be wearing their field jackets. The movie appears to be set most likely in the Spring or Summer.

Pvt. Pyle sits down on the fourth toilet to shoot himself in the head. It's the one right from where the toilet paper is. In the close-up that follows he's on the third toilet, left from the paper holder.

Factual Mistake
When Pvt. Pyle shoots himself in the head, the safety on his M-14 is on, there is no muzzle flash and no smoke, and no recoil. Furthermore, the tile behind his head is not shattered.

Factual Mistake
At the distance Hartman is shot by Pvt Pyle, a 7.62 would have easily passed through him, leaving a tell-tale impact in the head's wall. None can be seen at the moment he's shot.

Revealing Mistakes
When the sniper has been alerted to Joker's presence and is firing her Czechoslovakian VZ.58 rifle at him, no shell casings are being ejected as would normally be the case.
The videotape demonstration was not the only factor which got R. Lee Ermey the role as the drill instructor. Ermey went to Stanley Kubrick and asked for the part, as the actors on the set were, in his opinion, not up to snuff. When Kubrick declined, Ermey barked an order for Kubrick to stand up when he was spoken to, and the director instinctively obeyed. That sealed the matter, and Ermey won the part as Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann.

Stanley Kubrick had nothing but praise for R. Lee Ermey's skills as a performer. Kubrick originally was going to write dialogue for Ermey's character himself, but he became so impressed with what Ermey improvised, that he decided it wasn't necessary. He just let him ad-lib, something practically unheard of for a Stanley Kubrick film. Ermey's performances were so faultless that Kubrick only needed 2-3 takes to get his scenes filmed, also extremely rare for a Kubrick film.

One of the scenes cut from the movie was a scene that showed a group of soldiers playing soccer. The scene was cut because a shot revealed they were not using a soccer ball, but a human head.

During filming, a family of rabbits were accidentally killed. Stanley Kubrick, an animal lover, was so upset that he canceled the rest of the day's work.

It is a common misconception that much, if not all, of R. Lee Ermey's dialogue during the Parris Island sequence was improvised. In several interviews Ermey himself has stated that he worked closely with Kubrick to help mold the script so that it was more believable, all while retaining certain dialogue crucial to Kubrick's vision. While filming the opening scene, where he disciplines Pvt. Cowboy, he says Cowboy is the type of guy who would have sex with another guy "and not even have the goddamned common courtesy to give him a reach-around". Stanley Kubrick immediately yelled cut and went over to Ermey and asked, "What the hell is a reach-around?" Ermey politely explained what it meant. Kubrick laughed and re-shot the scene, telling Ermey to keep the line.

R. Lee Ermey was involved in a jeep accident during the making of the movie. At 1:00 a.m. one night he skidded off the road, breaking all the ribs on his left side. He refused to pass out, and kept flashing his car lights until a motorist stopped. In some scenes you'll notice that he does not move his left arm at all. Stanley Kubrick claimed in an interview that it took four and a half months before Ermey could return to work in which production simply had to be suspended since he was involved in all the remaining scenes.

To make Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann's performance and the recruits' reactions as convincing as possible, Matthew Modine, Vincent D'Onofrio, and the other actors playing recruits never met R. Lee Ermey prior to filming. Stanley Kubrick also saw to it that Ermey didn't fraternize with the actors between takes.

His shirt on Parris Island reveals that Pvt. Joker's real name is J.T. Davis. This is a deliberate reference to Spec. James T. Davis, the first officially recognized U.S. casualty in Vietnam, who was killed in 1961.

In the first part of the movie, in the sequences inside the barracks during the drill, a special lens was designed to keep every single soldier in focus. Stanley Kubrick intended that no one was special and they all had the same treatment.

According to an interview with Vincent D'Onofrio, the production schedule for the film was so drawn-out that lead actor Matthew Modine got married, conceived a child with his wife, the child was born, and then turned 1 year old...all during the course of filming.

Advertisements for this film were censored in some parts of Canada due to the tagline "In Vietnam the wind doesn't blow, it sucks." At that time, Canadian censors had not yet decided whether the phrase "it sucks" (or "this sucks") was obscene.

According to director John Boorman, Stanley Kubrick wanted to cast Bill McKinney in the role of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman. However, Kubrick was so unsettled after viewing McKinney's performance in Deliverance (1972) that he declined to meet with him, saying he was simply too frightened at the idea of being in McKinney's presence. Kubrick then hired Tim Colceri to play Hartman. Colceri never got to play the role, as former US Marine Corps Drill Instructor R. Lee Ermey, consultant for the Marine Corps boot camp portion of the film, performed a demonstration on videotape in which he yelled obscene insults and abuse for 15 minutes without stopping, repeating himself or even flinching - despite being continuously pelted with tennis balls and oranges. Stanley Kubrick was so impressed that he cast Ermey as Hartman. Colceri was bitter but accepted Kubrick's consolation prize of a small role as a helicopter door-gunner.

The term "full metal jacket" refers to the type of small arms ammunition used in warfare, as heard in Private Pyle's famous line spoken on the toilet, "7.62 millimeter, full... metal... jacket." Full metal jacket ammunition has a copper coating covering the lead core of its projectile.

Stanley Kubrick shot a scene in the Norfolk Broads where a Westland "Wessex" helicopter (flown by a stunt pilot) was required to fly low down along a canal (the area doubling for paddy fields) while someone fired a heavy machine gun out of the doors. The scene was shot at dawn and the local police were supposed to have warned fishermen but there was a communications problem. The many fishermen were awoken by a US helicopter apparently machine gunning their "positions". The Wessex itself was subsequently damaged during filming when the tail rotor got pushed into an obstacle while the copter was parked.

Val Kilmer auditioned for the part of Pvt. Joker. According to Matthew Modine, Kilmer confronted Modine in a restaurant and challenged Modine to a fight because he believed that Modine had stolen the part from him. But Modine was not even aware of the film at the time. Modine later sent Kubrick footage from Vision Quest (1985) and won the part.

Vincent D'Onofrio tore ligaments in his knee on the obstacle course, due to the extra weight he put on.

The banner at the wall in the conference room at the Da Nang base reads: "First to go last to know - We will defend to the death your right to be misinformed".

Stanley Kubrick was well known for having a very small crew on set. On one occasion, after the electrician finished lighting a set, Kubrick told him, "Okay, this is how I want the scene lit and I'm not going to change it." Kubrick then sent the man to fix some wiring in his house.

During the training scenes there is a private with the name "Hunter S" on his back, an allusion to "Gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

Most actors auditioned for their roles by submitting videotapes of themselves performing a scene in Vietnam. Stanley Kubrick and the studio placed ads throughout the US for young aspiring actors to send in audition tapes for the film. They received around 3000, of which Kubrick personally watched about 800.

Lines from the scene in which Private Joker (Matthew Modine) and Private Rafterman (Kevyn Major Howard) are approached by the Da Nang Hooker (Papillon Soo) were sampled in 2 Live Crew's 1989 hit "Me So Horny" on the album 'As Nasty As They Wanna Be'. The exchange between Joker and the hooker - "What do we get for ten dollars? / Every t'ing you want. / Everything? / Every t'ing." - is used at the very beginning of the song. While the "Me so horny. Me love you long time" sample is used in the chorus of the song, as well as throughout. If you listen carefully to the samples at the very beginning and end of the song, you can hear Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", which plays under the original scene in the movie. The song also contains a sample from Which Way Is Up? (1977).

For the final battle of Hue, 200 pine trees were imported from Spain and a few thousand tropical plastic plants were imported from Hong Kong. Plastic trees had previously been flown in from California, but upon seeing them, Stanley Kubrick reportedly said: "I don't like it. Get rid of it."

The 7.62mm full metal jacket round that Pvt. Pyle refers to was the standard infantry round leading up to the Vietnam War. It was used in the M-14 infantry rifle that was designed during WWII and manufactured up until the Vietnam war era. Although the M-14 was used in the Vietnam War the M-16 had replaced it as the standard rifle. The M-16 uses a 5.56mm round.

Michael Herr, a very close friend of Stanley Kubrick, helped write much of the screenplay, particularly the part set in Vietnam. His contributions to the script are based largely on his own experiences as a reporter covering the war. Like Joker and Rafterman he was essentially freelance and allowed to travel anywhere in the country. Additionally, the scene where Joker and Rafterman watch the crazed gunner in the chopper machine-gun civilians is taken directly from "Dispatches", Herr's memoir of his experiences.

In the Sea Tiger editorial scene, an American flag was seen at the back of the Quonset hut. This was Gustav Hasford's nod to his fellow combat correspondent Bob Bayer who donated photographs and various items for set decoration of the movie. The flag seen was also his and it contains signatures of all First Marine combat correspondents of 1967-68.

Stanley Kubrick had extensive phone conversations with writer Gustav Hasford over the screenplay, to discuss the adaptation of his novel into a movie. He eventually wanted to meet with Hasford in person, even though co-screenwriter Michael Herr tried to talk Kubrick out of this, as he thought Hasford was a 'scary man'. The meeting took place at Kubrick's house, but it went so bad that Hasford was kept out of the writing process for the remainder of production. Hasford later considered legal action to obtain a full writing credit on the screenplay.

Some scenes of the ruined city of Hue were shot at a dockyard on the Isle of Dogs, London, that was scheduled for demolition. The ruins of Hue in the sniper and final nighttime scenes were shot at the Beckton Gasworks in London's East End, which was also slated for demolition. In some shots there is a rock in the background that looks very much like the monolith from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Kubrick said it wasn't intentional, but only noticed while watching the rushes. Beckton Gas Works was used a year before for the movie Biggles: Adventures in Time (1986).

The Charles Whitman shootings (which Sgt. Hartmann describes to the recruits as an example of "what one motivated Marine and his rifle can do") took place Aug. 1, 1966, presumably a few months before the recruits arrive on Parris Island. Though only one person (Cowboy) raises his hand when the recruits are asked who Charles Whitman was, the Associated Press and United Press International called the shootings the second most important news story of 1966 - trailing only the Vietnam War.

The only shot that actually shows Parris Island is when the platoon graduates and another shot of video is imported into the movie showing the graduation location on Parris Island by First Battalion.

The only two actresses who have some lines spoken (amongst the very sparsely female presences in the movie) are Papillon Soo as the Da Nang hooker and Ngoc Le, as the Vietcong sniper.

Tony Spiridakis (Captain January) was deleted from the final print. In the screenplay, Captain January has the longest dialog scene - which was the first scene of the movie to be shot. Rehearsal was done in one week and filming of the scene was shot in 4 weeks. However, during post-production, Stanley Kubrick realized that the off-screen actor performing the scene with Spiradikis was completely out of timing and decided to scrap the scene. All of his scenes were subsequently cut out.

As another item notes, the title refers to full metal jacketed (or "ball") ammunition. Under the Geneva Convention, only FMJ can be used by military personnel. FMJ bullets while very deadly are more likely to pass through a person without greatly expanding or breaking up than other types of bullets (hollow point or unjacketed soft lead bullets). The title alludes the absurdity of trying to make civilized rules for war.

If you pay attention to Joker's uniform collar throughout the movie, you'll notice that he starts out as a Private and by then end of the movie he is a Sergeant.

The bathroom mop scene between Joker and Cowboy took 62 takes to complete. However, Cowboy's death scene took only 5 takes.

Mickey Mouse is referred to at the end of both segments: when Hartmann enters the head to confront Joker and Pyle, he cries "What is this Mickey Mouse shit?" ("Mickey Mouse" was GI slang for something - or someone - that was petty, stupid and senseless); and Joker and company sing the theme from The Mickey Mouse Club (1955) as they march through the burning city. A third Mickey Mouse reference is in the press room: a Mickey Mouse figure can be seen near the window behind Pvt. Joker.

As Joker prepares to kill the sniper, his chest turns as he raises the gun - hiding his peace symbol button from view.

There was supposes to be an extra scene after Joker killed the sniper,it even was in the script. After Joker killed the sniper, Animal Mother would bring out his machete and chop of the sniper's head and throw it out the window. The scene was cut for obvious reasons.

In the first draft, Mickey Mouse was only referred to once, and Joker was the one to be killed in the end. Hartmann was originally called Gerheim. In the final draft, Cowboy was the one that was killed in the end and another Mickey Mouse reference was added at the end (The Mickey Mouse Club (1955) theme).