To watch this film is to watch a brilliantly precise director create a work of art. And that piece of art would be a Salvadore Dali in the guise of Andy Warhol. What struck me the most throughout the movie was the heightened sense of objectivity that ran through the entire length of the film, a matter of facted-ness that could perhaps be called a passionless endeavor by some, but really, an extremely contemporary take on war in general and the Vietnam war in particular.
It isn’t real by any means, and is clearly a crafted piece of work. We as an audience are so extremely well taken care of by Kubrick. The courtesy he extends us, by having worked on his script, direction to such a flawless extreme is tremendous. The trust he reposes on us, in keeping the narrative entirely unprejudiced, is so relieving.
Throughout the movie I kept thinking that this must be adapted from a novel, just because the cold and calculated objectivity that the subject matter has been handled with suggested it. Turns out it has been, and the novel itself was chosen because of its neutrality of tone. Its true that all one can see throughout the movie is Stanley Kubrick. He pervades the entire movie as if he was in every single frame. The plot really is simple, a journey of one marine from the time he joins it to the time he faces his first real experience in war/killing. The characterizations are simple, one of the guys is a smart ass private who ultimately joins journalism inside the corps, one other is an overweight, happy and simple guy who finally loses it (quite dramatically with eyeballs rolling backwards etc). The complexity is perhaps in the visuals which seem heavily pop artesque, and the overall picture that the film paints.
The movie itself is superbly crafted, with cold calculation, and the precision of a master painter with a brush.