First Stripes reveals how training designed to equalize recruits ends up reproducing a conservative set of norms.
First Stripes begins and ends with the same military graduation parade. A Steadicam shot marches along the ceremonial procession of solemn-looking army recruits, their movements stiff, their faces expressionless. But once the young men and women pass beyond the curtain separating them from their family and friends, their bodies take on a whole new shape. Plasticity returns to their limbs and emotion to their faces. This is where Jean-François Caissy’s verité documentary takes us: behind the curtain, behind external appearances, to follow a group of Québécois recruits to the Canadian armed forces through the 12-week basic training boot camp. The film reveals how training designed to equalize recruits is yet another machine that reproduces a conservative set of norms.