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THE APPRENTICE

BY MATTHEW ROSS

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 Kubrick, never one for sentimentality or outdated technologies, made him buy a Minolta.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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