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In your note pads write down a short answer to thisquestions: In your opinion, what is the ‘meaning’ of Full Metal Jacket? What is the director trying to say? What do the characters represent to you?
Identify how directors can manipulate our emotions andpoints of view through micro and macro elements Analyse the apparent lack of motivation presented by Kubrick for the soldiers actions Evaluate how the ‘Duality of Man’ theme is essential in our ‘un- alignment’ to any one character
Most war films will focus their narratives on the waritself and attempt to align us with a specific characterDirectors do this to encourage us to take a ‘preferred’reading of the film and agree with the meaning ormessage of the film Watch the following clip and make noted on how the director aligns us with the character What is the preferred reading of this film? How did character alignment help in you in ‘decoding’ the ‘message’ of the film? You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
Platoon ends with Taylor (Sheen) leaving Vietnam on ahelicopterThere are several POV shots showing dead bodies beingdumped and focusing upon the facial expressions of clearlytraumatised soldiersThe non-diegetic music adds a sense of melancholy to thescene, reflecting Taylor’s emotions and encouraging us totake the preferred reading of the filmTaylor’s narration talks of “the enemies in us” and the impactof war on the individualHe also mentions survivors have an obligation to “buildagain” You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
Through narration the character is not only presenting hisinner thoughts, but also speaking directly to the audienceThrough the use of POV’s and narration Oliver Stone ispresenting a very specific representation of Vietnam and isencouraging us to ‘align’ with the character and accept thepoint of view he presents –War has a traumatic effect on the individual and those whosurvive are obliged to share their experiences and educateothers on the impact of war Stone himself is Vietnam veteran and as the writer/director of Platoon, he is re-presenting his experiences, all in an attempt to educate others (audience) You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
Motivation for fighting and the resulting consequences of war are prominentaspects of most war movies. Characters usually fight for:money, power, honour, freedom, women, reputation etcA clear understanding of each characters motives is usually presented, creatinga ‘framework’ for our understanding of the film Watch the scene and consider: If a character is fighting for freedom, we view the Does Kubrick give one clear motivation for film with this in mind and the soldiers actions? it motivates every action of the character. We are encouraged to see war as Why does Kurbick present a number of the character see’s it an POV’s? adopt their POV What is the ‘meaning’ of this scene? You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
Normally, a character in a war film with present one clearjustification for their actions in a warIn this sequence the camera pans round and allows eachcharacter an equal amount of screen timeEach character conveys an individual message to thecamera identifying their characters and roles as marinesas distinct from one anotherSome are disturbed, some talk of ‘going home’, somewish them peace in heaven, Animal Mother says “Betteryou than me” (reflecting his selfish nature seen later in thefilm) You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
Raptor-man says: “At least they died for a good cause...” “What cause is that?” “Freedom” “You think we are fighting for freedom?... If I’m going to die for a word... It‘d be poon-tang!” This scene offers viewers an insight in to the characters and their ideas, but it still offers no concrete ideas as to what they are really in Vietnam for You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
The theme of ‘Unclear motivations’ is seenthroughout Full Metal JacketJoker himself embodies this theme by wearing a‘Peace’ symbol on his jacket, but “Born to Kill”written on his helmet Because we are rarelyWhen asked why he has joined the Marine given a clear motivationcore, Joker responds: for any of the actions taken by the TO KILL SIR! characters, Kubrick makes it very difficultYet, when he graduates he chooses for us to ‘align’ with anya position as a reporter, not in the one specific characterinfantry – but later shoots awounded enemy from point blank You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
Joker claims his items represent the ‘Duality of man’ –and it is used to reflect the inner confusion of thesoldiers throughout the filmFull Metal Jacket presents Joker as a symbol of man’sduality – wanting to do good but often submitting toour carnal / animalistic desires to do so refers to the Watch the following scenes and make notes on the two opposing following: sides of the nature of How do these scenes explore the concept of ‘The man, scumbag! duality of man’? How does Joker’s motivations, actions and reactions reflect the duality of man? You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
Throughout these sequences Joker is the character we mostidentify with, through his presence on screen and his narration.However in the soap beating scene he yields to pressure from the‘group’ and the need for unity, and beats PyleIn this way we are never truly aligned with JokerWe may, at some points see him as a sympathetic characterwhose rebelliousness endears him to useBut at other he is arrogant, brutal and unsympatheticHis ‘duality’ is the key theme of the film and the main reasonwhy we are unable to fully align with him You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
Joker is at first reluctant to join in on the beatingWhen he attacks Pyle he strikes with more force and anger than the othermarinesHe then holds his ears and portrays his regret at attacking PyleIn this scene we see the ‘duality’ – of Joker. Why do you think Joker participated in the beating? What were his motivations for doing so? You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
Sniper SceneJoker wants to commit an act of mercy and end the painof the injured sniper. However to do this he must give into his primitive desires and kill the sniperThe non-diegetic music adds an oppressive feel to thescene and reflects the tensions felt by Joker, and hiscomradesThe scene also reinforces the themes of duality throughjoker himself and the opinions of the other soldiersAgain no over riding motivation is presented, and we arestill no close to understanding why the soldiers are inVietnam You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
The duality of man is also reflected in the narrativestructure of the film itselfThe film is split in to two distinct halves, eachdealing with character, location, narrative indifferent ways Watch the following extracts and make notes on how the mise-en-scene differs in both halves of the film Also consider how the characters are represented differently You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
Blue and Green are dominate coloursThese colours make the images feel cold and off-puttingThe entire sequence is given a sterile atmosphere whereeverything is in orderThe dialogue is even said without normal inflection or emotionThe boot camp sequences provide the audience with a blend ofuneasy laughter and sterile detachmentThe boot camp sequences are included to create a sense of orderand reflect the loss of individuality the characters areexperiencing – this also contributes to our ‘distancing’ from thecharacters You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
What do you think is the ‘point’ of the Boot Camp sequences?Sgt. Hartman’s goal is the dehumanisation of therecruits so he can rebrand them in to killing machinesThrough his use of abusive language, physical abuse andstrict living conditions, Harman drives the humanity outof the characters..... and moulds their views to ALIGN with the military’sdesiresIn doing this, Kubrick also aligns the audiences POV withthe militaries and ultimately, the groups. You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
The second half of the film is in stark contrast to the lookof the first halfIn Vietnam the colour palette is dominated by red’s andoranges – representing the chaos and frantic nature of thewarUnlike the clean and sterile environment of Boot Camp, theVietnam scenes are littered with debris and explosionsemphasising the chaos of warThe dialogue is layered and more naturalThe use of colour and mise-en-scene in both sequencesreinforce the ‘Duality’ theme running throughout the film You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
Most ‘War’ films will attempt to align us with a specificcharacter in order to encourage us to take a ‘preferred’reading of the filmIf we can align with the character we accept their POV ofthe world and this creates a framework from within whichwe see the worldIf, for example the character sees war as brutal andunjust, we will take their POV and share itIn Full Metal Jacket we are never truly given an individualPOV of the Vietnam war You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
There are moments in the film, such as Joker’s narrationthat provide an in sight in to the characters mind, howeverthese are limited and do not provide any real reasoning forthe characters being in the warAs a result we do not align with any one character, butinstead give our ‘allegiance’ to the groupThis way we do not see Pyle as a victim, more of a threat tothe groupOur response to Full Metal Jacket relies heavily on thetextual information provided, but also the ‘extra textual’information we bring to the film as individuals You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
‘Most films will encourage the spectator to align with acentral character so a preferred reading of a film can be taken’ How true is this of Full Metal Jacket? Read the exam answer to this question You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!
‘Most films will encourage the spectator to align with acentral character so a preferred reading of a film can be taken’ How true is this of Full Metal Jacket? Consider: • Spectatorship Theory • Alignment • Allegiance • The role of each character • Your own personal response to the film You will learn by the numbers I will teach you!