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Examine Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now as war porn - Essay Example

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Examine Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now as war porn

The contrast between the misty green landscape and the penetrating force of the hi-tech war machines is emphasized through the soundtrack which uses Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” to dramatic effect. Echoes of the Nazi use of this music for propaganda purposes are not lost on a modern audience who must view the lusty singing of the soldiers as an example of the glory and at the same time the moral bankruptcy of modern warfare. This is the paradox that lies at the heart of most war films dating from the Vietnam period onwards. Any attempt by a filmmaker to depict the horrors of war can be interpreted as an encouragement to develop anti-war feeling in the audience, or alternatively, and much more disturbingly as a celebration and glorification of killing. It has been observed, for example, that Apocalypse Now has a focus on bodies and weapons, even to the extent that the character Kurtz is portrayed in a highly sexualized manner: “Coppola frames the first sight of him in an erotic manner, letting us see Kurtz’s bald head bathed eerily in yellow light in a manner that literally suggests the head of a penis” (Eberwein, p. 116). ...
This change is depicted as a kind of subversion of Lance Johnson’s sanity and maleness, and an abandonment of normative male sexuality (Eberwein, p. 117). In other words, the film shows a deviant kind of masculinity which rejects “normal” relationships with women in favour of a much darker sexuality connected with brutality and violence, leading to the death of all outsiders, whether they are Vietnamese or American. This is the horrible end point of the brutalizing force of war, showing a lawless group operating out of control, on a mission of gratuitous cruelty and destruction. It can be argued that other characters in the film, such as the uptight Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) represent a counterbalance to the wayward band of followers under Kurtz’s influence, promoting a patriotic use of force in defence of more positive and moral objectives. Willard survives the terror tactics of Kurtz and in the end brutally murders him, proving perhaps the necessity of absolute force. Under such a reading of the film, there is no pornographic content, because the extreme conditions of war simply demand an equally extreme response. For other observers, however, the moral depravity of war makes Willard just as culpable as Kurtz in his use of covert tactics to achieve his mission objectives. Lance is saved from the fate of Kurtz’s men, but at what moral cost? In Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket (1987) the very title of the film highlights the dehumanizing effect of war, or to be more precise, the systematic hardening up of soldiers that takes place in training courses designed to produce trained killers for military action. A large portion of the film ...Show more
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Summary

Examine Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now as war porn. The term “war porn” has been used to described the orgiastic revelling in violence and destruction that can be found in some depictions of military activity, whether this be in biographical narrative accounts, or fictional representation in novels or films, or even in some documentary or news reporting of events in wartime…
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