Full Metal Jacket & Requiem For a Dream

Mental Illness in Films

Movies are the conglomeration of the director’s ideal frames and sounds stitched together to form what they consider a work of art. While some want to leave the audience with a chuckle to remember, others want to inform the audience and have them relate to certain groups of people.

Some of these films focus on those suffering from mental illnesses and the daily struggle to live a “normal” life and overcoming their personal hurdle. But some characters are doomed and show the very, very dark side of mental illnesses. Two movies that depict mental illnesses in the worst light are Full Metal Jacket and Requiem For a Dream.

Full Metal Jacket is a movie about the Vietnam War and follows Private Davis “Joker” and Private Lawrence “Gomer Pyle” as they endure horrid basic training. In the movie, Pyle can be interpreted as either dim-witted or slow, which causes a lot of trouble due to commands not followed when ordered.

As the movie progresses, with the help of Joker, Pyle becomes an exceptional soldier, but has just become a killing machine. Pyle has a psychotic break down, resulting in him killing his Drill Sergeant and himself. This section of the movie shows that not all enlisted during the Vietnam War (and sometimes today) are made for war and that by forcing them to become a soldier, they can lose who they are in the process. The war aspect harkens the idea of PTSD, which Pyle can also be shown to have due to his constant reliving of drills and commands.

Requiem For a Dream deals with the methamphetamine epidemic and the terror of addiction on loved ones and the user them self. The movie follows four major characters: Harry, Marione, Sara, and Tyrone. Each have their own beginning traits and ending traits if you compare the movie as a whole. Sara is Harry’s mother who is addicted to the idea of being on television and wants to lose weight, which leads her to use meth and her eventually falling into insanity.

Harry is a meth addict who tries to go on the right path, but breaks down and relapses when he sees his mother in the “druggy” he was in and loses an arm due to constant abuse and negligence while using the drug.

Tyrone is a user who becomes a dealer, but ends up going to jail when trying to find medical help for Harry who is on the verge of death and ends up working while in prison. Marione is Harry’s ex-girlfriend who becomes a heavy user and is left by Harry with only her body to use for a “job” to get drugs. These characters and others have more depth to them and their interactions then mentioned. The movie details how a simple chemical compound can ruin lives and have a shock wave effect.

 

Written by Johnpierre Grajales and Prem Naik

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