The film is divided into two parts, the first being the training.Making the recruits into killing machines and losing their individuality. The second part is the effect of this with them in Vietnam fighting. The relationship between the rifle and the solider is more of a partnership, the training making feel empty without the rifle. Making it felt needed to use the rifle. This makes the gun worshipped in a way, as the men told they our unless without their rifle.
The film main theme is about individuality and how the men lose though basic training. This then later results in them losing their humanity in order to kill another man. Having the born to kill writing on his helmet and the peace symbol on the same helmet makes a contradiction, this can be seen as if Joker is trying to make a joke of the situation or the fact that even though he is fighting in Vietnam is against war for peace.
At the end of the film we can see that a part of the Joker is lost, due to the fact that he has to kill a assassin at the end of the film. This makes him lose some of his humanity and innocence at the end of the film. This is due to the fact that he never expected to kill anyone due to him taking the post at journalism rather than the front line. This then leads to them singing the Mickey mouse song at the end of the film, this is because of the fact that they are returning home and they are joyful in a way.
I have watched other Vietnam films, one of them being Apocalypse now which happens to be one of my favourite films. Compared to Apocalypse now, Full metal jacket falls short. This is due to number of reasons from technical aspects and story/themes aspect. One the reasons I feel that Apocalypse now is far superior is due to the performances, I feel that apart from the Sgt. at basic training all the performances are quite wooden in full metal jacket. While compared to the performances in Apocalypse now which are much better in showing emotion and creating different characters, this can be seen in Martin Sheen performance, along with Robert Duvall and Marlon Brando.
While both films tackle the same themes I feel that Apocalypse now does it a lot better and not in such an obvious way, without bashing it over your head. I also feel that Full metal Jacket loses some of its merit because of the fact that it was made 10 later when many films like Apocalypse now and deer hunter already tackled that theme and did it much better way. For example in Deer hunter Robert De Niro was unable to shoot the deer at the last part of the film. With also Christopher Walken being unable to go back to normal life and stays in Vietnam.
They also show how unorganized some of the fighting was and how some people were clearly insane. We can see this when Robert Duvall’s character gets people to surf whilst under heavy gunfire. They also show this with soldiers taking LSD whilst fighting. This is stuff which isn’t shown in Full metal jacket.