The colors used are also drab and grey-green dominates to evoke a sense of claustrophobic death and destruction.
Another aspect that evokes atmosphere in the film is the use of music. Kubrick chooses a soundtrack which is both empty and banal yet also succeeds in emphasizing the loss of meaning and vacuity in what the young recruits have become. The director makes use of popular songs such as "These Boots Are Made for Walking" and "Surfin' Bird." The very emptiness of the lyrics tends to ironically emphasize the dehumanization and loss of identity which pervades the film (Maslin).
The theme of dehumanization is followed through in the graphic events of the battle and we also see the "…collapse of the individual into the group" (Anderegg 11). For example, when Joker tries to express his individuality by wearing a peace symbol on his uniform, he is sternly rebuked by a marine officer and ordered to "join the program'. In effect the young recruits become almost robotic in their view of the reality of the war and are strangely dislocated from the events around them.
It is also clear that while Joker shows signs of personal identity and individually, this is overtaken by the group mentally that has become the reality that the young recruits now subscribe to. In one scene when Joker meets his old friends, one marine displays a dead body of the enemy as a joke. The extent of their dehumanization is also evident in the interview that the young recruits give to the press and in the warped views and attitudes expressed by Animal Mother. One critic remarks that, Private Joker "…melts into an "irrevocably infantalized" group...The creation of young killing machines, as Kubrick delineates the process, involves a form of male bonding…" (Anderegg 11)
In essence they have all become weapons of war rather than human beings. This is also very evident...
What they find in the final scenes of the film is shocking. The enemy is a young teenage girl who has also become just as dehumanized and twisted in her views as the young marines. The sad reality of the film is that the political and military complex has succeeded in turning people into 'killing machines' at the expense of their innate humanity. The film leaves one with the thought that these are young people who will return to society as twisted and psychologically damaged individuals.
In films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick insists that we expand our vision and understanding of human existence and the universe. This is a film that suggests that human being is limitless and that life is filled with unknown potential. In Full Metal Jacket on the other hand Kubrick interrogates society and the way in which humanity has lost its way in the search for meaning and identity. This film is in essence a horror story and even more horrific for being so close to reality. What is frightening about the film is the way that society allows young people to be indoctrinated and dehumanized in order to become military automatons. What the film leaves us with is the realization that we are faced with a future where dehumanized individuals have to adjust to normal society, with obvious negative consequences.
In essence we could summarize Kubrick's works as being aware of both the negative and positive aspects of human nature. On the one hand he was well aware of the amazing potential and possibilities that are innate within human nature; on the other hand, as we see in Full Metal Jacket, Kubrick was well aware of the negative traits of human nature and the possibility that people can lose their sense of compassion and human identity.
Anderegg, Michael, ed. ( 1991) Inventing Vietnam: The War in Film and Television.
Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
MASLIN J. FILM VIEW; INSIDE THE 'JACKET': ALL KUBRICK . ( 1987) Retrieved
June 8, 2009, from http://movies2.nytimes.com/mem/movies/review.html?_r=2&res=9B0DEEDD1731F936A35754C0A961948260&oref=slogin&oref=login
Plot summary/analysis of full metal jacket. Retrieved June 8, 2009, from http://www.stolaf.edu/people/mcbridek/index_files/Page423.htm
Rafferty T. Full Metal Jacket. Retrieved June 8, 2009, from http://www.thenation.com/doc/19870801/rafferty
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