Full Metal Jacket

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Full Metal Jacket Discussion Questions

  1. Did you like the film? Why? Why not?

  1. Have you seen similar films? Do we see similar events in the world today? Have you had similar experiences?

  1. Who is our protagonist? What is their internal conflict? Do they change or not change by the end? How? Why?

  1. How did the author/director indirectly characterize? (Actions, Reactions of others, Appearance, Dialogue, Thoughts/Attitude).

    1. Protagonist (Joker)?

    2. Pyle?

    3. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman?

  1. What did you find surprising or unusual?

    1. What motivational techniques does the Senior Drill Sergeant use and why do you think he does what he does? What is his intention? (General swearing & degradation to make them conform and obey orders- so they don’t get killed).

    2. Why do we see the soap incident? Why does Joker reluctantly and then jubilantly hit Pyle? (He is struggling internally with conforming, which in this case, means losing his compassion- but he finally gives into the peer pressure and it is a release, because it is easy and wrong).

    3. Why does the Drill Sergeant say Charles Whitman and Lee Harvey Oswald were excellent shots that were trained in the marines? Foreshadowing? (Pile’s suicide). How does this tie into the film’s theme as a whole? (Dehumanizing. Morality isn’t important, skills are).

  1. Was anything repeated throughout? Could this be important?

    1. Religion is repeated several times:

      1. The Rifle Creed

      2. “Do you believe in Mary?” scene

      3. Happy Birthday sung to baby Jesus just before the magic show, etc.

b. What parallels does he make between God and the Marine Corp? How are his lectures like sermons? Why does the director/author have him do this? (The Drill Instructor belittles religion in an attempt to replace the morality of religion with the Corp beliefs- which could keep them alive, but still takes away their souls).

  1. Was anything given too much attention? (perhaps editing technique)

    1. Pyle’s transformation: during an inspection, the Senior Drill Sergeant is impressed with Private “Pyle” for the first time and says, “You’ve been born again, hard.” What does he mean by this and what are the implications of this “rebirth”? (Religious again)

    2. Joker’s holding back. (He is the protagonist because he struggles with holding onto his individuality and morality).

  1. Anything important at beginning, climax, or ending? (What was climax?)

    1. Murder-Suicide: Why does the director have this be the end of their training? (This is where they learn the real lesson according to the director/author).

    2. Why is the first scene of them cutting their hair? Why country music? (Cutting hair = conformity. Country music = naivety).

  1. Was their anything symbolic in the film?

    1. Rifle creed in bed & in shower? What is the director trying to say about the military training at its affects? (It doesn’t just stop on the battlefield; it affects every aspect of your life)

    2. Why in the bathroom or “head”? (Pyle’s gone loco en la cabaza).

  1. What is this movie’s theme? (Dehumanizing effects of military).

  1. How did the mise-en-scene reinforce the theme? (Lighting, choice of actors, set, costuming, etc). (Joker in light and Pyle in dark in murder scene/ Crazy-looking, fat Pyle, symmetry and straight lines of bunk area, blue light for blanket party and murder-suicide, etc).

  1. How did the cinematography reinforce the theme? (Camera angles, tracking, zooming, etc). (Several montage scenes, Pyle is always shot from downward and off kilter angles, etc.)

  1. How did the editing reinforce the theme? (Music, SFX, cuts/ordering of events). (Country music = naive, popular music= common/juxtaposition, scary music=internal conflict, etc.)

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