“Full Metal Jacket” part 1


The Iron Curtain

A political, military, and ideological barrier erected by the Soviet Union after World War II to seal off itself and its dependent eastern and central European allies from open contact with the West and other non communist areas. It was popularised  by winston Churchill in 1946 in his speech.

The blockade loosened after stalin’s death 1953, but in 1961 the berlin wall harshened it again.The soviets even jammed the west’s radio waves.the curtain was largely destroyed in 1990 when the soviet union broke up.  

The function of the curtain was to act as a buffer between the soviets and the west, since they feared another invasion like operation barbarossa by the nazis.

The formation of the Berlin wall heightened west’s fears of soviet aggression so they formed a defensive military alliance called nato, with the basis that an attack on one of the allied countries would mean an attack on all of them. The soviets retaliated with the warsaw pact, also a military alliance.

The Truman Doctrine, policy of containment, arms race

With the Truman Doctrine, President Harry S. Truman established that the United States would provide political, military and economic assistance to all democratic nations under threat from external or internal authoritarian forces. The Truman Doctrine effectively reoriented US foreign policy, away from its usual stance of withdrawal from regional conflicts not directly involving the United States, to one of possible intervention in far away conflicts.

It started when, in 1947 britain announced that they will not support military or economic aid to greece in its fight against communism. Truman urged congress to send aid to greece and also turkey because they were also fighting communism. Other factors also played a role in enforcing the doctrine like the soviets rejecting the Baruch plan for international control over nuclear energy and weapons in June 1946 and soviet attempts to pressure the Iranian Government into granting them oil concessions.

McCarthy era

Senator Joseph McCarthy was a senator who, with the House Committee on Un-American Activities led a witch hunt for communist sympathizers during the cold war. McCarthy took advantage of the nation’s wave of fanatic terror against communism, and emerged on February 9, 1950, claiming he had a list of 205 people in the State Department who were known members of the American Communist Party. The American public went crazy with the thought of communists living within the United States, and roared for the investigation of the underground agitators. McCarthy was considered one of the least qualified and corrupt politicians in history. He basically went on a manhunt and the accused had 2 choices. Either to give out other names as russian spies to go free or to stay silent and deny, which would mean losing friends and jobs. The witch hunt accused many prominent figures such as oppenheimer and einstein. The era came to an end when mccarthy went too far by investigating the military, at which point the president, eisenhower understood that he must be stopped. The army fired back with critical accusations about abusing congressional privileges. The public soon turned on mccarthy along with critics and the media. the nation grew to realize that McCarthy was “evil and unmatched in malice.” He lost his position as chairman on the operations of the senate, and all his power in the media. He died 3 years later because of drinking.This era was allowed to happen because of the fear of communism.

Korean War

The Korean War lasted from 1950 to 1953. The Korean War was actually called a police action by the United States since war was not officially declared by the Congress. In 1949 the Chinese communists won their civil war against the Chinese nationalists. They began to support armed communist conflicts near their borders as they considered the United States and all of its allies to be a threat to their security and political views. After World War II, North Korea was under Soviet rule and South Korea was under the rule of the US. Tensions grew between the two territories. On the 25th of June, 1950, North Korea, with Chinese help, invaded South Korea. Initially, the attack was powerful enough to drive back the unprepared forces of South Korea. In time, though, the US was able to repel the North Korean forces by employing air, naval and amphibian counter-attacks. Along with UN forces, the US marched onto North Korean territory where they were met with an army organized by China. The US forces were then pushed back onto South Korean territory. The US, however, was able to, once again, gain some more ground and fought its way to the 38th parallel. Here a front line was established. The two sides fought and were not able to gain any advantage over each other. An armistice was negotiated over and a demilitarized zone was established. This demilitarized zone serves as a border region for the two nations of North Korea and South Korea to this day.

Role of J. F.  Kennedy

He was an American politician who served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until he was assassinated in November 1963. He started the Peace Corps and gave NASA the job of getting to the Moon.

Bay of Pigs and the Cuba crisis

US paratroopers descended upon a region on the coastline of Cuba called the Bay of Pigs. They were there to interfere with Fidel Castro’s rise to power (because he was communist and was organizing an uprising) but the attack failed and the American soldiers were imprisoned in Cuban prisons. The USSR saw how Cuba was being harassed and to deter Cuba from further harassment they put missiles there (because Fidel Castro was communist-minded, which the USSR supported). The US opposed  that, since they considered missiles 90 miles away from US soil to be a slight safety hazard. So a (this is the closest the two sides ever got to having a direct conflict during the Cold War) negotiation was held between US and USSR and they agreed that all the missiles would be disassembled and returned to USSR and in return the US would get rid of their ballistic presence in Italy and Turkey (which the public didn’t know about, but was a threat to the USSR). The Bay of Pigs was largely lead by Minister McNamara

Space Race

The Space Race was a 20th-century competition between two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US), for supremacy in spaceflight capability. It had its origins in the missile-based nuclear arms race between the two nations that occurred following World War II, enabled by captured German rocket technology and personnel. The technological superiority required for such supremacy was seen as necessary for national security, and symbolic of ideological superiority. The Space Race spawned pioneering efforts to launch artificial satellites, unmanned space probes of the Moon, Venus, and Mars, and human spaceflight in low Earth orbit and to the Moon.

The competition began on August 2, 1955, when the Soviet Union responded to the US announcement four days earlier of intent to launch artificial satellites for the International Geophysical Year, by declaring they would also launch a satellite “in the near future”. The Soviet Union beat the US to this, with the October 4, 1957 orbiting of Sputnik 1, and later beat the US to the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin, on April 12, 1961. The race peaked with the July 20, 1969 US landing of the first humans on the Moon with Apollo 11. The USSR tried but failed manned lunar missions, and eventually cancelled them and concentrated on Earth orbital space stations.

A period of détente followed with the April 1972 agreement on a co-operative Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, resulting in the July 1975 rendezvous in Earth orbit of a US astronaut crew with a Soviet cosmonaut crew. The end of the Space Race is harder to pinpoint than its beginning, but it was over by the December, 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, after which true spaceflight cooperation between the US and Russia began.

The Space Race has left a legacy of Earth communications and weather satellites, and continuing human space presence on the International Space Station. It has also sparked increases in spending on education and research and development, which led to beneficial spin-off technologies.

Vietnam War (causes, outcome and consequences)

At the time, Vietnam was a French colony. However, a communist rebellion started to emerge in the country and it repelled the French from Vietnam territory. The US, fearing communism’s rising control in the region, aids France’s effort to reclaim the region. However, the communist side is able to claim control over the conflict. A treaty between France and Vietnam is established: there is to be a northern (communist) region of Vietnam and a southern (western alignment) region of Vietnam. In 1964, missiles are fired at a US ship in the Gulf of Tonkin by Vietnam. President Lyndon Johnson got congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which stated that military force could be used in Vietnam – initially only limited to bombings. At home, US citizens were mixed on the topic of the Vietnam war. Some believed that it did not make sense to be expending US lives and fighting for a foreign cause. Eventually the war was lost by the US The loss was obviously a detriment to the image of the US’s government, both at home and abroad. President Lyndon Johnson did not even rerun for president due to the controversy over the Vietnam War.

Richard Nixon and the Watergate Affair

Watergate was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s, following a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. and President Richard Nixon’s administration’s attempted cover-up of its involvement. When the conspiracy was discovered and investigated by the US Congress, the Nixon administration’s resistance to its probes led to a constitutional crisis.

The term Watergate has come to encompass an array of clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration. Those activities included such “dirty tricks” as bugging the offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon or his officials were suspicious. Nixon and his close aides ordered harassment of activist groups and political figures, using the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The role of Henry Kissinger

An American diplomat and political scientist (national security advisor). Most of all, Henry Kissinger appeared throughout the global media as a genius, villain, and consummate manipulator who wielded power at the most important points in recent history. Henry Kissinger was Richard Nixon’s key foreign policy adviser. He was influential in negotiating the Paris Peace Accords which ended American involvement in the Vietnam War. Still to this day a very controversial figure in politics.

Counterculture, Summer of Love and Woodstock

Counterculture is a subculture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores. Rebellion against the establishment appeared in many forms in the United States during the 1960s. Caught up in the rising frustration circling around America’s increased involvement in Vietnam, the racial unrest in many urban areas, and the pressure to conform, a growing number of the younger generation rejected the American way of life. The resulting movement, termed the counterculture, embraced an alternative lifestyle characterized by long hair, brightly colored clothes, communal living, free sex, and rampant drug use. Summer of Love is a phrase given to the summer of 1967 to try to describe the feeling of being in San Francisco that summer, when the so-called “hippie movement” came to full fruition

Visual piece


The M41 “Walker Bulldog” was a light tank used produced between 1951-1954, but used long after that. The reason I chose this picture for my visual piece is because these tanks were heavy used in Vietnam war and can be seen several times during the movie. These tanks were of great benefit to the infantry as the tanks could stop rifle rounds and could be used as mobile cover.

Movie discussion

Q – Do you think America’s involvement in Vietnam was justified?

A – I think it was. Although this is a relatively controversial topic I think that in order to stop the spread of communism America had a genuine reason to fight in Vietnam.

Q – Can you name some of the weapons used in the Vietnam war.

A – M14 rifle, M16 rifle, M41 “Walker bulldog” light tank, M60 MG, H-34 helicopter (US), AK-47 (VC)

Q – Where does the title of the movie come from?

A – It refers to the full metal jacket bullets used by the soldiers. Also, one of the most memorable scenes, where Pyle goes crazy, he answers to Jokers question (are those live rounds) with : “7.62 mm full metal jacket”

Q – What was the name of the island the marines trained on?

A – Parris Island

Q – What does sergeant Hartman mean when he said “The more you hate me the more you will learn”, do you agree with this?

A – He means by this that if they can take the harshness of Hartman they will be able to handle Vietnam. I agree with him, that most of the time this works, but as we saw from the movie it can drive a person insane

Q – Why didn’t Joker change his mind after being asked “Do you believe in the virgin Mary”, what followed this.

A – Because he believed that he would be punished more if he changed his mind, he was promoted to squad leader by Hartman who said “You got guts and that will do for now”

Q – Why did Joker hit Pyle during the blanket party?

A – He hit him because, even though he didn’t want to, the others would have likely done the same to him if he had stood up for Pyle.

Q – How did the blanket party change Pyle?

A – He became very focused, but also this drove him insane.

Q – Why didn’t Pyle shoot Joker?

A – Because Joker showed at least some form of compassion to him, helping him when he was in need

Q – Why do the locals hate American soldiers?

A – They feel like they are the reason the war is in Vietnam. As 8 ball said “they’d rather be alive than free”. As well as this many Vietnamese civilians were killed during the war.

Q – Define the “Thousand yard stare”.

A – It’s a stare that a marine gets when “he’s been in the shit for too long”. In other words this is a stare that a soldier gets when he has seen unforgettable things in war.

Q – What do you think about the man in the chopper killing vietnamese civilians, why do you think he did this.

A – I think he had been driven crazy by the war and saw every vietnamese person as a target/enemy

Q – What does Joker mean by “Duality of man”.

A – He means that every human has a good and a bad side. His peace symbol representing the good side and the text on his helmet “Born to kill” representing the evil side.

Q – How did the first squad leader (Touchdown) die?

A – He was killed by shrapnel from a nearby explosion.

Q – How did Rafterman feel after getting his first kills

A – He felt proud and boastful, this is evident in the interview after the battle.

Q – Do you think Cowboy was fit to be a squad leader?

A – Though he did make bad decisions I think he still was fit to be a squad leader. He just made some bad calls.

Q – Do you think Animal Mother was better fit to be a squad leader.

A – I think not, he was too unmoral

Q – How did Joker killing the girl sniper change him?

A – I think it showed him what war is really like. Killing another person, especially a child showed him that war is truly hell. After that kill I don’t think he made many more jokes.

Q – Would you have volunteered to serve in the Vietnam war (if you had been a US citizen at that time), why?

A – Yes, because it would be my duty to defend by country, in this case against the spread of communism

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