Two particular (and very different) moments that I described for Chris Fujiwara’s Defining Moments in Movies (2007). — J.R.
1987 / Full Metal Jacket –- The closeup of a dying Vietcong woman, a sniper.
U.S. (Warner Bros. Pictures). Director: Stanley Kubrick.
Cast: Matthew Modine, Ngoc Le.
Why It’s Key: It condenses the film’s power into an intense, mysterious moment.
I had the rare privilege of seeing Stanley Kubrick’s last war picture — an adaptation of Gustav Hasford novel’s The Short Timers, about his experiences during the war in Vietnam — with war specialist Samuel Fuller, shortly after the film came out. He didn’t much care for the picture, he said afterwards, because he didn’t much like films about training, and besides, this movie wasn’t antiwar enough for his taste; he thought it might even encourage some teenage boys to enlist in future wars. Of course, Fuller had extensive war experience and Kubrick had none, which might have also played some role in forming his bias.
But one thing in the film that he loved without qualification was the close-up of the wounded Vietcong sniper at the end while she’s begging for Joker (Matthew Modine) to finish her off —- above all, for the look of absolute hatred in her eyes. Read more