I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, your senior drill instructor. From now on you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be “Sir”. Do you maggots understand that? ” – Gunnery Sergeant Hartman
Number of Times Seen – at least 10 times (cable in ’88, video, DVD and 13 Jun 2014)
Brief Synopsis – The view of the war in Vietnam thru the eyes of a young soldier from his training thru his time spent in Vietnam itself.
My Take on it – Kubrick has always had a very interesting way of telling a story and think movie is no exception to that rule.
Here he tells the story of what happened in Vietnam thru to segments narrated by a cynical character named Joker who tells us like it really is.
Matthew Modine is great in this role and really shines here.
The first segment features Joker with his fellow recruits going thru boot camp before being shipped over to Vietnam. Being a former soldier, I know how harrowing that can be and when I went thru the process I had the memories of these memorable scenes stuck in my head. R. Lee Ermey will always be known for his portrayal of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman who’s ability to discipline and insult his recruits are so iconic that he has become to be known as the best representation of that particular position in movies. He personally was a “Gunny” and drew on his own experiences to work together with Kubrick in creating his own amazingly insulting improvisations while in character.
Another standout in this segment is a recruit named Gomer Pyle played by Vincent D’Ofornio. He plays the overweight screw-up who gets picked on by both the recruits and the commanders for his lack of abilities. (He put on 70 pounds for the role.)
This segment was amazingly done and it’s unfortunate that Kubrick didn’t expand on it even more.
The second segment follows Joker while he is in Vietnam as an army journalist. We get to see how the soldiers themselves felt about the war. Many of the characters were based on real life soldiers that the writer knew while in Vietnam.
This segment is interesting on its own, but when comparing it side by side with the first segment it is clear to see which one is weaker.
The message of this movie like so many (anti) war movies is the futility and waste of lives in war.
What’s unfortunate is that Kubrick didn’t expand both stories. had he made each segment a movie of their own, it would have worked even better than it already does.
Bottom Line – Great movie about Vietnam. Kubrick basically melded together two movies. The second half is weaker than the first half. It’s too bad Kubrick didn’t make two separate full length films, they both would have been superb. Highly Recommended!
Rating – Oscar Worthy
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