Directed by François Reichenbach • Documentary • 1957 • 21 minutes
François Reichenbach follows a group of young men from the day they enlist in the US Marine Corps, all the way through basic training. The power of this is twofold. It lies in the poetic visuals focused on the men’s faces and expressions (scared, determined, chastened), and in the critical commentary, which questions the need to humiliate, threaten, and even endanger the lives of these recruits. Filmed around the time of the Ribbon Creek incident, which saw the drowning death of six Parris Island recruits on a night-time forced march, this original version of the film was suppressed by the US military, which demanded changes to Reichenbach’s anti-militarist commentary.