Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. United Kingdom/USA, 1987. Natant, Stanley Kubrick Productions, Warner Bros.. Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, Michael Herr, Gustav Hasford, based on the novel The Short Timers by Gustav Hasford. Cinematography by Douglas Milsome. Produced by Stanley Kubrick. Music by Vivian Kubrick. Production Design by Anton Furst. Costume Design by Keith Denny. Film Editing by Martin Hunter. Academy Awards 1987. Golden Globe Awards 1987.
Probably the best fictional documentation of the Vietnam war alongside Francis Ford Coppola’s much more liberal Apocalypse Now, this film is Stanley Kubrick’s first film since The Shining and one of his very best. It concerns a green draftee (Matthew Modine) who experiences the horrors of boot camp (led by a terrifyingly brilliant R. Lee Ermey) and then gets sent out into the field in Vietnam as a war journalist. Disturbing images and situations run amok throughout both halves of the film, some of the training experiences equaling the horror that the troops witness when fighting on Vietnamese soil. Modine is perfectly suited to the role of the blank, all-American hero, while Vincent D’Onofrio brings a terrifying sense of unease to his role as a fellow trainee who can’t handle Ermey’s sadistic techniques for very long. Brilliantly adapted from Michael Herr’s novel The Short-Timers, this is an important film about the dehumanization of war that should be witnessed by all.