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The Helmet

There is no point making this Wiki without dedicating an article to Full Metal Jacket. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and was released on June 26, 1987, it's based on the novel The Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford. The title refers to the full metal jacket bullet type of ammunition used by infantry riflemen. The film follows a squad of U.S. Marines from their basic training through their participation in the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War.


The film is divided into 2 parts. In the first part, a group of new recruits in the United States Marine Corps have just arrived at Parris Island for basic training. After they have their heads shaved, they meet their drill instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey), who wastes no time in starting the process of making these civilians into Marines. The Vietnam War is in full swing, and his job is to produce trained Marines. The film's first section focuses on the physical and psychological treatment of the recruits, in particular Leonard Lawrence (Vincent D'Onofrio), whom Hartman derisively nicknames "Gomer Pyle."

Hartman immediately pegs Pyle as a misfit. He is socially awkward, dimwitted, overweight, out of shape, and afraid of heights. He has trouble coping with the physical rigors of recruit training and does not respond well to orders and procedures. These deficiencies get the constant attention of Hartman, who punishes him to encourage him to perform better as well as to provide a lesson to the others. Hartman ultimately appoints the protagonist "Joker" (Matthew Modine) as Pyle's squad leader, bunkmate, and mentor, stressing that Joker will set Pyle straight, or else. Pyle eventually begins to straighten up and become a more disciplined recruit on some fronts, but forgets to lock his footlocker before a barracks inspection. Opening it, Hartman finds a contraband jelly doughnut inside and immediately puts a new rule into effect: every time Pyle "fucks up", Hartman will punish everyone else in the platoon because they are not helping Hartman by encouraging Pyle to work harder toward becoming a Marine. Shortly afterward, the other recruits gang up on Pyle during the night and give him a blanket party, pinning him to his bunk using a blanket and beating him severely with bars of soap wrapped in towels and socks. Joker, the last one to hit Pyle, covers his ears once he is back in his bunk to block out the latter's moaning and sobbing.

Over the next few days, Joker realizes that Pyle has become sullen and withdrawn. Pyle begins to detach himself from the platoon as well as the rest of reality. His expert marksmanship impresses Hartman, but Joker becomes worried upon watching Pyle carry on conversations with his rifle. On completing their training, everyone in 3092 platoon, including Pyle, graduates and is assigned a Military Occupational Specialty, the most common being 0300-Infantry (one notable exception is Joker who is assigned to 4212-Basic Military Journalism). On the platoon's last night on Parris Island, Joker is assigned fire watch (guard) duty, during which he discovers Pyle in the head (toilet) loading his rifle with live ammunition. Frightened, Joker attempts to calm Pyle and tells him "If Hartman finds us in here..we'll both be in a world of shit." Pyle replies "I am...In a world...of SHIT!" Pyle then begins shouting and executing drill commands and reciting the Rifleman's Creed. The noise awakens Hartman, who rushes into the head and orders Pyle to put down the rifle. It is then revealed to Hartman that Pyle is starting to go crazy, as he just stares at him and makes weird noises. Hartman then insults Pyle who then snaps, and shoots Hartman in the chest. He then sticks the end of the barrel in his mouth, and blows the back of his head off, and his brains splash all over the wall. The shocked Joker looks on.

The second part of the film opens in Vietnam in January, 1968. Joker is a Sergeant and a Marine Combat Correspondent with Stars and Stripes. He has been assigned to a Marine public affairs unit with "Rafterman" (Kevyn Major Howard), a combat photographer. One day in a meeting while reading reports and pitching article ideas, Joker tells his superior, Lt. Lockhart (John Terry), of a rumor that the enemy might launch a large attack during the Tet Holiday. Lockhart is dismissive of Joker's information. However, soon thereafter, the Tet Offensive begins and the Marine base is attacked. During the offensive, Joker fights in his first battle when elements of the North Vietnamese Army attempt to overrun the base.

The next day, the PA staff learn from Lockhart about the enemy attacks all over Vietnam. Joker is ordered to Phu Bai, a Marine forward operating base near the ancient Vietnamese city of Huế, to cover the combat taking place. Rafterman tags along, hoping to get some combat experience. En route to their new assignment, Joker and Rafterman meet a crazed door gunner (Tim Colceri) on an H-34 Choctaw who is shooting every Vietnamese person he sees on the ground, on the assumption that they are all Viet Cong, even proudly shooting women and children.

When Joker and Rafterman land outside Huế, they meet Lt. Walter J. Schinowsky, aka "Touchdown" (Ed O'Ross), who leads the platoon in which Joker's boot camp friend "Cowboy" (Arliss Howard) is serving. Touchdown directs them to a mass grave of civilians killed by the North Vietnamese Army. Afterwards, Joker finds Cowboy (also a Sergeant), second in command of the Lusthog Squad, whose M60 machine gun carrier is a nihilistic Marine nicknamed Animal Mother (Adam Baldwin). Joker then accompanies the squad during the Battle of Huế, during which Touchdown is killed and a Marine nicknamed Crazy Earl (Kieron Jecchinis) takes command of the squad. As "Crazy" leads the men on a patrol through a ruined section of the city, another squad member is killed by enemy fire.

The squad is called up for patrol again, this time north of the Perfume River which divides the city of Huế, where enemy forces are believed to be hiding. Crazy comes across a toy rabbit in a ruined building and picks it up, triggering an explosive booby trap that kills him and leaves Cowboy the reluctant squad leader. The squad becomes lost in the ruined buildings, and a sniper wounds two of their comrades, Doc Jay (Jon Stafford) and Eightball (Dorian Harewood), with the intention of drawing more of them in. As the squad maneuvers to try to locate the hidden position, the sniper finishes off the wounded men and kills Cowboy as well.

With Cowboy dead, Animal Mother assumes command of the remaining Marines. Using smoke grenades to conceal their advance, the squad approaches and enters the building being used by the sniper. Joker finds the sniper on an upper floor, but his rifle jams as he tries to shoot. The sniper, an adolescent Vietnamese girl, spins around and opens fire, pinning him behind a column. Rafterman arrives and shoots the sniper, saving Joker. As Joker, Rafterman, and Animal Mother and other Marines of the squad stand over the mortally wounded girl, she begins to say "It hurts" in Vietnamese. After a pause, she begs in English to the Marines, "Shoot me," over and over. Joker and Animal Mother argue over this request. Animal Mother initially wants to leave her to be eaten by rats, but changes his mind; he will allow a mercy killing only if Joker, who has much less combat experience, performs it. After a pause, Joker shoots her with his pistol. The film concludes with the Marines' rendition of the Mickey Mouse March (lyrics) as their reunited platoon marches into the night toward their bivouac. The song Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones plays as the credits roll.

The film was rated "R" by the MPAA for "graphic, brutal war violence, and strong profanity".

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