This report is based on the works of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Full metal Jacket’ and Steven Spielberg’s ‘Saving Private Ryan’. While a full metal jacket is set during the Vietnam War, saving Private Ryan is set during World War II. Both films are an epic representation of the trials and experiences of war and the directors have brought this out in unique and interesting ways. The purpose of this report is to highlight the value of single human life in battle.
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Saving Private Ryan is a film about a mission set out to find one paratrooper James Francis Ryan and send him home as the war had seen the death of three of his brothers and the United States general sympathized with his mother who would receive the news of his sons’ demise on the same day. The general wanted to spare the mother the agony of losing all her sons in the war. The film begins with an elderly Private Ryan visiting the cemetery of the American war heroes then the scene cuts to the landing on Omaha beach during the invasion of Normandy. The landing brutal attack that left many soldiers dead.
Captain Miller is given the grueling task of assembling a search team that is to retrieve Ryan in a mission riddled with disappointments and difficulty and upon finding Ryan he refused to abandon his platoon who have bestowed the task of defending a bridge and destroying an approaching German military Unit. Captain Miller’s team is forced to help with a task that led to the death of a number of them including Captain Miller who died telling Ryan to earn the effort it took to rescue him. The film ends with the veteran Private Ryan saluting Captain Miller’s grave and asking his wife whether he had led a life worthy of the lives it cost to save his own.
The film full metal jacket’s first part is about the pre-war training experiences and the second part is about the experiences on the battlefield. It begins with the preparation for the training; recruits then meet their instructor who abuses them constantly both physically and verbally in an effort to toughen them up. The training highlights the life of one private ‘Pyle’ who is weakest and then later commits suicide. After graduation, ‘Joker’ is assigned to journalism and in a military assignment their troop is ambushed by a sniper killing most of their soldiers, the sniper turns out to be a young woman who is later executed by ‘joker’. The film ends with the marines marching on and the joker saying that he is happy to be alive.
Saving private Ryan and full metal jacket are two remarkable movies that describe the horrors of war. Both films have captivating openings that grab the audience’s attention. Kubrick’s film begins in a marine corps training ground, he sets out to show that the horrors of war do not necessarily start in the enemy’s territory, the recruits are conditioned to think that their lives are worthless compared to the greater purpose that the war represents.
However, saving Private Ryan begins by showing the value of human life and compassion by setting out on a mission to prevent a mother from losing all her four sons in an effort of saving one. The first somber 27 minutes of Saving Private Ryan shows brave soldiers marching into battle amidst hailing bullets, this gave the audience a glimpse of Second World War experiences and the audience is compelled to sympathize with the soldiers who lost their lives in the struggle.
Saving Private Ryan clearly shows the value of retaining humanity in the heart of battle. Spielberg accentuates the theme by the use of hearty compositions and haunting sound effects that arouse sorrow and sympathy in the hearts of viewers. During the execution of the sniper in full metal Jacket, we note that she had the same facial expression as that of Private Pyle, the glimpse of fanaticism in their eyes and clenched teeth that is evidence of lost humanity and the preparation for death.
The accessories that Private ‘Joker ‘ wore which include the words ‘Born to Kill’ on his helmet and a peace button are a representation of the duality of man in reference to the political situation in America at the time. Both Films describe war veterans as heroes in the lives of the soldiers themselves as well as to their country. Although Kubrick described the Vietnam War as ‘fake’, his film embraces Vietnam veterans as worthy heroes in a way that is sympathetic and at the same time humorous.
These films show that a single soldier is not just a killing machine but also a human being who has feelings, family, and friends. A soldier has a right to life and the experiences on the battlefield create awareness amongst them on the value of life as shown by the theme In saving Private Ryan. It took the loss of several lives to save one. The silent moment of contemplation of Private Joker at the end of the full metal jacket also demonstrates this awareness of the value of a single life.
Kubrick, S. (Producer) & Kubrick, S. (Director). (1987). Full metal jacket (motion picture). United States: Warner Bros. Pictures.
Spielberg, S. (Producer) & Spielberg, S. (Director). (1998). Saving Private Ryan (motion picture). United States: Paramount Pictures.