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Matthew Modine photographs himself in Full Metal Jacket Diary.

Matthew Modine found out he had gotten the lead role in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket when Val Kilmer — whom he had never met — started cursing at him in a coffee shop on Sunset Boulevard. A year later, in 1985, the 26-year-old actor and his wife Cari arrived in England to begin what would become a yearlong shoot. To impress the maestro, Modine brought along a medium-format Rolleiflex camera — the same one Kubrick had used during his early years as a photographer for Look magazine. Kubrick, never one for sentimentality or outdated technologies, made him buy a Minolta.

The filming of Full Metal Jacket was your typical Kubrickian affair: call sheets were quickly thrown out the window; single scenes were shot and then reshot for more than a month; tempers flared, and then subsided. All along, Modine took pictures and diligently kept a journal. Now, some 20 years later, he’s decided to share his experiences — and his remarkably assured photographs — with Full Metal Jacket Diary. “I always wanted to do something with the pictures because I thought they were beautiful, but I also knew I had to wait until I was ready,” says Modine of his decision to publish the book. “Now I feel enough time passed, so I could look back at those days as being part of another person’s life, this young kid who went on a journey to work with a legend. Today I’ve become somebody else, I’ve become a man, I’ve raised my son. I think I can be objective about that experience and not self-serving.”

Left to Right: Matthew Modine’s photographs of Arliss Howard
and Stanley Kubrick from Full Metal Jacket Diary.

Formatted like a scrapbook, FMJD (which is bound, literally, in a full metal jacket) alternates between screenplay format and military-style dispatches, with the images presented in both standard and collage form. Rugged Land Press will release a limited-edition run of 20,000 copies ($29.95) on Oct. 25.


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