Full Metal Jacket by Stanley Kubrick (UK/USA, 1987, 117 min.). Full Metal Jacket tells a tragic story of the dehumanizing effects of war on the individual. It follows the fate of a group of young American men in the 1960’s who become recruits for the US Marine Corps to fight in Vietnam. Together, they undergo brutal and humiliating war training aimed at breaking their individual personas in order to form them into killers, ready to shoot America’s “communist enemies” overseas. The recruits are sent to Vietnam, where they witness firsthand the atrocities of the battlefield; the war reveals itself not as an opportunity for glory, but a traumatizing scene of carnage.
Stanley Kubrick had good reason to stage the battle in Vietnam in an industrial environment in the streets of a burning, ruined modern urban landscape. He hereby reinforces the argument that the Western powers produce the very danger they pretend to fight: dehumanization is not the result of the heterotopos of the war field but is generated via indoctrination “back home.” Sadly, Full Metal Jacket is still a portrayal of Western enforcement of “peace and justice” globally. The Kantian creed that the maxim of one’s actions should at all times be translatable into universal law is challenged by the film in that it reveals a hypocritical situation where the North Vietnamese soldiers are declared to be criminals and a threat to human rights, freedom and peace while the American soldiers who commit mass murder remain “lawful criminals” who are to be protected. Civilian casualties become necessary deaths that are justified by fighting for the right side: for Mickey Mouse.
Nina Schildhauer, MSc
Undependence Film Festival, Scotland