Is that you John Wayne? Is this me? - The Wolves of Stanley Kubrick

Kubrick's movies are stalked by wolves.
Consistently he paints his protagonists as stalking, amoral and inhuman and nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the Shining, and none more broadly than in Full Metal Jacket.

Kubrick shows his Vietnam-era marines as stilted, distanced human beings. Joker's difficult affect makes him fundamentally unreachable.
The first and most obvious wolf is the devilish Hartman, who stalks through the early film, making in a point to psychologically break down the vulnerable Private Lawrence, and encourage the rest of the platoon to do the same.
As Lawrence, or 'Pyle' is "born again hard", Joker opines that the recruits are growing beyond the control of the drill instructors, and this becomes horrifyingly clear as Pyle enacts his revenge on Hartman. Up to this point a nonentity in the film, the hulking Pyle becomes the killing machine the marines have been honed to be, only off the chain.

The fatal gunshots signal the fragmentation of the film, and we are allowed to see Joker's real 'war face'.
Sickness plays a huge part in the latter half of Full Metal Jacket, with the hooker coughing, to which Joker explains "half of these gook whores are serving officers in the Vietcong, the other half got VD, so be sure to only fuck the ones that cough".

Following the assault on Da Nang Rafterman is sick on the helicopter, either from airsickness or revulsion at the machinegunning of civilians.

Joker appears repulsed by the murdered Vietnamese seen in the lime pit.

It is hinted that hulking fighter Animal Mother is afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder, with one of the soldiers explaining "all he needs is someone to throw hand grenades at him the rest of his life".

Later we learn that one of the soldiers was due to be medically discharged for chronically masturbating.

There is a sense through these isolated vignettes that the war is a cancer or infection that has bled into each of the soldiers as jarring shifts of tone and a weird affected manner permeate the shots.

 When Joker finally has to kill, a coup-de-grace for a gravely wounded young girl, he is watched over by the same haunted expression as Pyle had. Brutal and effective Animal Mother is now the commander following the systematic deaths of all above him, as the war has intensified, he is the stubborn flesh left behind when the rest were cut down.
The film never offers an explanation, where these men went or what became of them. The film expects us to understand only one dimension of these characters: That man is a wolf to man.

Written under duress by Steven.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...