STANLEY KUBRICK'S Full Metal Jacket
Shot-by-Shot Analysis
Table of Contents

Introduction

For the real film buff, I've gone through and listed shots, images from each, and length of time of shots. Because I raised myself on the old Evergreen Black Cat cinema books which took pains to do the same and loved studying them. And because that is the only way I felt I could really begin to do a good, involved analysis of Kubrick's films, which are very complex internally, and also all the films being related to one another.

Kubrick's films elicit a lot of whys and wherefores, "What does this mean?", because he included so many seeming puzzles inviting review, mysteries that demanded second and third notice, editing quirks and both subtle and obvious shifts in staging. My analyses haven't much to do with the psychology, but look at Kubrick's choices of stories, music, places he filmed, staging, the differences between the literature and the script that made it onto celluloid and how he chose to edit it all together, carrying themes from film to film, and based on these elements I dip into a variety of possible influences.

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Table of Contents for this analysis
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six
Notes on the Analyses (Disclaimer)


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Analysis of Stanley Kubrick's Film Full Metal Jacket - Table of Contents

PART ONE

Hello Vietnam, Shots 1 through 21. Notes: Full Metal Jacket, Tribes and the D.I.
Choke Yourself, Shots 22 through 52 .
What Side was that?, Shots 53 through 60
Tonight, You Pukes will Sleep with your Rifles, Shots 61 through 76
The Obstacle Course, Shots 77 through 95 .
Do You Believe in the Virgin Mary, Shots 96 through 105

PART TWO

Helping Private Pyle, Shots 106 through 116
The Jelly Doughnut, Shots 117 through 128
The Bad Dream, Shots 129 through 136
The Motivated Marine, Shots 137 through 167
Graduation, Shots 168 through 182
Malfunction, Shots 183 through 214

PART THREE .

One of These Days These Boots Are Going to Walk All Over You, Shots 215 through 226
Stars and Stripes Meeting, Shots 227 through 252
January 30, 1968, Shots 253 through 283
How's it Going to Look if You're Killed Wearing a Peace Symbol, Shots 283 through 288
How Can You Shoot Women and Children, Shots 289 through 308
I Think I was Trying to Suggest Something About the Duality of Man, Shots 309 through 317

PART FOUR

Reunion with Cowboy / The Birthday Celebration, Shots 318 through 344
The Death of Touchdown / Two Confirmed Kills, Shots 345 through 391

PART FIVE

I Wanted to See Exotic Vietnam, the Jewel of Southeast Asia, Shots 392 through 423
Double Feature at Le Nguc, Shots 424 through 444

PART SIX

The Rabbit Booby Trap, Shots 445 through 454
The Sniper, Shots 455 through 546
Am I a Life-taker? Am I a Heartbreaker?, Shots 547 through 591
Who's the Leader of the Club, Shots 591 through 594

Notes on the Analyses

Are you one of the league who find Kubrick's cinema fascinating and wonderful but are also confused by seeming peculiarities? Are you certain those often under-the-radar-over-the-head weirdnesses must mean something? Or maybe you're just curious? Here's my request. That you, please, think in terms of art with intention, which isn't conspiracy and has nothing to do with conspiracy theories. Would you think of music composed of unspoken themes as being conspiracy? What's difficult is teasing out the artist's conscious intention as versus accidental as versus the viewer's role as an active pilgrim walking the road that art provides to accessing the unconscious and mythic, the vast knowledge that has been archived in your brain from birth forward of symbols and metaphors and archetypes through navigating the warehouse of such that is actively and passively feeding you in the cultures of everyday society. As an author and artist, I know what it is to hope for at least a few such pilgrims, confident they are the minority, that most think in terms of being only entertained, and to attempt to compose for both. Even with those who are just wanting a good story, or who want to dissect a film for practical good-cinema purposes, the majority would likely admit that it is the inherent mystery in Kubrick's films that functions as their primary gravity. It is that sense of something deeper, a subterranean coherence that provides the glue, that compels individuals to return and perhaps begin to move, without their even realizing it, from a passive state into a more active, participatory role where art becomes a transformative experience rather than just visual popcorn. For that matter, even a simple detective story can actively engage the viewer, and Kubrick's films have a touch of the detective genre to them. For instance, at the end of The Shining Kubrick zooms in on Jack seemingly appearing in an old photograph of The Overlook, and he is holding what looks like a little slip of paper, a little rectangle of white in the palm of his hand, as if displaying it for us, but what is it? One is compelled to try to solve the mystery of Jack in the photo, what could be in his hand, so one watches the movie again. That's the sleuthing, detective part of watching Kubrick's films.

The most important thing which must be kept in mind with Kubrick's films is there is the surface or principle story and then the internal or sub-story. In many of his films, if we're really paying attention, set elements pretty much immediately destroy the surface naturalism. One may not notice this deconstruction the first, second or third time one watches the film. Through constructive disorientation and disconnectedness, and sleight of hand as to where our eye focuses, Kubrick, the magician, intentionally obfuscates and reveals these elements that betray the overt and naturalistic story line as being artifice, a studio fiction that rests upon something both more solid and also bizarre. The surface story lines are the principle ones, but they are maintained and supported by the sub rosa dialogue. These deconstructive elements are plainly there, alongside his tremendous effort to make things look real and believable, and play with a purposeful sense of disorientation that when locked into exposes a puzzle that annihilates the sense of reality. This destruction of the film's naturalistic story line is difficult enough to conceive of and accept, and it's easy enough to stop at this point and decide these puzzling aspects of Kubrick's films are errors. But they are not. They are part of the art of a director cleverly designing the overt story line to be unimpeded by an internal story that tears it apart. Indeed, the sub rosa elements of the internal story may be discreet but they are enough in evidence to complicate the surface story with an aura of attractive, indefinable mystery, which is one of the reasons viewers return to Kubrick again and again. To work with the "reason" and "why" of the internal story line is to try to settle into Kubrick's sensibility, examining how these internal stories form a dialogue in his oeuvre with repeating themes and ideas, elaborated upon from film to film. The internal stories haven't a "plot"; they aren't that kind of story. Instead, you have to be willing to deal with comprehending the themes and ideas represented in them as ultimately forming a different terrain for the setting of the surface story, guiding and interacting with the overt story and giving it a new form in the hands of the participant viewer who is engaged rather than a passive recipient.

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