A companion piece to Wiseman's earlier High School, this is another bleak cinéma vérité study of institutional indoctrination: in this case, the US Army. Filmed at the Fort Knox training centre, Kentucky, it follows a group of new recruits from induction and orientation through to the regimented discipline of the graduation ceremony (prior to shipping out to Vietnam). Beneath the austere 'objectivity' of Wiseman's camera, the editing implicitly emphasises the perpetual process of dehumanisation intrinsic to the system, and finds a focal point of sorts in the maladjusted Private Hickman, whose inability to fit in leads to a suicide attempt. Hickman is a skinny precursor to Stanley Kubrick's Gomer Pyle, and the first half of Full Metal Jacket borrows significantly from Basic Training.
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