Plot & Details
Celebrated filmmaker Frederick Wiseman offers another striking look at the inner workings of a well-known institution in this documentary. Shot in 1970, at the height of the Vietnam war and as popular opinion in America was beginning to swing against the conflict, Basic Training follows a company of U.S. Army draftees and volunteers as they go through initial military training at Fort Knox in Kentucky. Wiseman observes without intruding as the young men are taught the basics of fighting in the field and doing things the Army way. But as Basic Training follows the progress of the young soldiers who fit into the system, it also offers a look at a few who clearly do not; one recruit, who can't seem to master the basic tasks assigned to him and learns his sense of humor runs counter to that of his commanders, eventually attempts suicide, and finds few sympathetic voices among his superiors as he tries to come to terms with his troubles. Basic Training was the first of several films in which Wiseman examined various aspects of the American military, followed by Sinai Field Mission (1978), Manoeuvre (1979) and Missile (1987).