Full Metal Jacket(Spoilers?)

What, exactly, is the link between the “Training” part and the “War” part.

I can see no particular link between the two “Acts” at all.

Ok so Pyle does his thing…goes mad and Blows the Drill Sergant and himself to high heaven, with Joker watching…but there is nothing in the Hue City part that shows the signifince of this.

I’ve thought about it for a while, and all I can come up with is that when faced with the choice to either kill or spare the Sniper Girl who shot Cowboy, Joker’s training takes over his better nature and he kills her, but it seems like a bit of a long movie to just come to this conclusion.

I like Kubrick’s films as a whole, and I enjoyed this one just as much, but at the end I was just left with a “What the…” feeling.

Someone please explain.

I can’t help you, but I just wanted to say, I got the same feeling watching the movie.

The point is that war is a dehumanizing process that makes life cheap, and ordinary men are put through training in order to start this process early. There really is no psychological difference between military training and combat, which is pretty much the truth. (Training is intended to mirror the real thing, after all) The connection is that the strain of training was enough to turn Pyle into a killer, and the strain of combat did the same thing to Joker.
I always thought the death of the Drill Instructor signifies how the people who create the machinery of war can be caught in their own web. The subtle message is that you can’t teach men that killing is good and acceptable, then expect them to completely return to normal once you don’t need them to be killers anymore. To be an effective combat soldier requires the warping of a man’s humanity, and that is not easily undone.

This movie is based on a novella. I can’t remember, but I believe the novella moves from training to the midst of war as well.

Great movie, though I hope you noticed two characters carried over into the war part.

Another link is Mickey Mouse(no kidding!). The drill instructor yells something like, “What is this Mickey Mouse shit!” right before he is shot, then the movies ends with the soldiers singing the Mickey Mouse theme. It’s intentional.

Slightly OT, but would somebody explain the meaning of the nickname Rafterman?

What’s a Rafterman?

The movie is based on The Short Timers, by Gustav Hasford. At around 50,000 words my definition places it as a short novel rather than novella but there are no hard and fast rules for literature.

The ending of the first section, “The Spirit of the Bayonet,” includes this passage:

I think Lizard caught the intent.

For whatever it’s worth, Rafter Man is a two-word name in the book. He’s just introduced as a photographer and I don’t remember whether the name is explained later on.

I thought “Rafterman” was just the guy’s surname … at least as far as the movie goes. Can’t speak for the novel.

IMDB.com concurs.

got to slightly disagree with Lizard. war is an essential part of humanity. the soldiers in FMJ weren’t being warped, they were being trained to do something that up until that part of their lives they hadn’t had experience with. it may be ugly and brutal, but it’s not inhuman - it’s very human, and like anything, one can be trained.

remember, only plye went off. the others probably became good soldiers, joker certainly did.

and what ties the two parts together is at the end when joker puts on his “war face” to shoot the wounded sniper. remember how the sarge kept saying “let me see your war face!” in the first part!

by the way, in the book, joker shoots and kills his friend who was shot by the sniper and was being used as bait. that how it ends.

I thought the point was to show the dehumanizing aspect of war, to show how the military warps people into doing acts they would never have dreamed of before. That was the great irony of the first part. The sergeant drilled into Pyle the all-importance of killing the enemy when you see him because you were told to do so. And that’s what Pyle did. He killed the enemy when he saw him–the “enemy” being the sergeant and what Private Pyle had become. In the end, he was a perfect product of basic training, a machine-like Marine.

That set the stage for the remainder of the film. Although Joker is not a “perfect” Marine like Pyle, even he could not overcome what training and war had made him.

I know the other Marines looked at Joker as being “hardcore” when he aced the sniper but I don’t think that was the case. From the look on his face I think he did it to end her suffering not because he wanted to kill her.


As far as the transition from training camp to the theater of operations portrayed in the movie is concerned, that’s the way it was. For eight weeks you were thrown together with a bunch of guys you never say before in your life, and in some cases never imagined. You lived cheek to jowl with them for eight weeks and then you never saw them again. Then you got on a bus and went off to live with another 40 different guys who you lived with for another six or eight weeks and then you left and never saw them again. Then you went home for 30 days or so and then you got on an airplane and 20 hours later you were in a tropical country with 10 or 20 guys you never saw before, living like pigs in a sty, while people you never say before in your life tried to kill you and you tried to kill them. The whole thing was pretty disjointed and more than a little surreal. The movie captured that.

The book is called The Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford, and as far as war novel go, it’s pretty good. The significance of Rafterman is explained in the book (and not bothered with in the movie) as being a nickname (they all have nicknames) referring to an incident where the character was spying on some friends in a brothel and fell out of the rafters.
The book’s ending, IMHO, was far superior to the movie ending. In the book they get caught in the open by the sniper who is shooting only to wound. Once one of the marines is shot and unable to move, the sniper starts shooting of pieces of his body until another marine leaves cover to rescue him… gets shot and is shot apart until another marine leaves cover etc. etc. The climax of which is that Joker has to shoot Cowboy to put him out of his misery… not the sniper (I don’t think they ever get the sniper).
In the movie I couldn’t understand why the music got so loud and why there was such a problem with killing someone who was, in fact, a combatant. Having to kill one of your buddy’s seems to me to be a much more difficult propostion. But maybe in that case, a different point was made.

The IMDb just seems to be listing the character’s nicknames as surnames–i.e. “Pvt. Eightball” and “Pvt. Cowboy.”

BTW, it lists Matthew Modine as Pvt. J.T. ‘Joker’ Davis. Where did they get “J.T. Davis” from? That may be his name in the book, but he’s never called that in the film. Right?

In the movie he was renamed Joker by the Drill Sargent. Can’t recall what the actual incident was though, either he laughed or he made someone else laugh right at the beginning. Then DS asked his name, and when told said “No it’s not, it’s Joker.”

So yeah, he does state his original name in the movie.

In the book, “Rafter Man” got his name because during a striptease show in the mess hall, he got piss drunk and climbed into the rafters for a better view, then fell right onto a front row table of brass, spraying colonels and generals with their own beer. The highest ranking general picked him up, then pulled up a chair and let Rafter Man sit with him, thereby impressing the other Marines. The movie kept the nickname but didn’t bother with the backstory.

In the book,

Rafter Man dies by being accidentally run over by a tank.

RickJay, thanks for clearing-up Rafterman’s name.

Desmostylus, thanks for posting the scene where Joker doesn’t say his name is “Davis.”

Where the heck did the IMDb get that from?

I just had a look at the credits to the film. It says “Pvt. Joker”. So I don’t know how IMDb is justified in saying “Davis”, either.

So he didn’t ask his name? Hmmm… then I misremembered that part, sorry.
Did Joker/Davis have his name on his uniform in the scene? I know when he’s in Vietnam the name on his uniform is “Joker” like the DS had actually changed it officially as far as the military was concerned (or something like that), and that always kind of puzzled me…

In fairness to Fairblue, Hartman does ask two other recruits their names: