In the early eighties, after he had finished making the The Shining, Stanley Kubrick began to look for another story to film, another movie to make.
“When I don’t have a story, it’s like saying a lion walking around in the veld isn’t looking for a meal. I’m always looking.”
Eventually, he found his story: The Short-Timers, a semi-autobiographical novel by Gustav Hasford about Vietnam. In 1987, Kubrick explained the book’s appeal to the Washington Post:
“This book,” Kubrick says, “was written in a very, very, almost poetically spare way. There was tremendous economy of statement, and Hasford left out all the ‘mandatory’ war scenes that are put in to make sure you understand the characters and make you wish he would get on with the story ... I tried to retain this approach in the film. I think as a result, the film moves along at an alarming – hopefully an alarming – pace….”
“I think it tries to give a sense of the war and the people, and how it affected them. I think with any work of art, if I can call it that, that stays around the truth and is effective, it’s very hard to write a nice capsule explanation of what it’s about.”
From 1983 on, Kubrick read everything he could find about Vietnam including “countless movies and documentaries, Vietnamese newspapers on microfilm from the Library of Congress and hundreds of photographs from the era.” He was relentless, obsessive, single-minded. He worked on a screenplay with Hasford and Michael Herr, which he then filmed at an old T.A. barracks, and at disused gasworks on the banks of the Thames River at Beckton. The result was Full Metal Jacket.
These brief clips of Kubrick directing Full Metal Jacket shows (as Michael Herr once described) the legendary director as “control freak” also being “philosophical about the things he can’t control.”
Bonus documentary on the making of ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ after the jump…