The film “Made in the Royal Navy” plays to the natural anxiety in boys and young men about how they are going to become a man and go out into the world. The message is that the Navy will remake the raw youth into a heroic version of the inadequate boy that they once were.
After a prologue suggesting a misspent youth*, the 60 second film is made up entirely of vivid action flashes including manhandling ammunition, saving the wounded, firing missiles, automatic weapons, handling small arms, “real” action involving an enemy ship with an explosion and a body in the water, all accompanied by menacing music.
Interspersed in this mix are the “rewards” such as worldwide travel, bonding with all-male shipmates and partying, but strangely all in the complete absence of women either socially or professionally.
The scenes, which appear for milliseconds, resemble the discredited subliminal advertising that companies such as CocaCola once used and several replays are necessary to unravel the message implanted in the minds of the viewer.
The title of the film exposes the aim of naval training, which is to break apart the natural human behaviour of a civilian and reform it ready for acts of extreme violence. Unlike other professions, the career path is very short and the return to civilian life entails being “Unmade after the Royal Navy” often leading to depression and regret.
Becoming a truly confident and fulfilled man in normal life normally builds from inside a person but if that person is simply a creation of the Royal Navy, then it can be a very fragile and temporary achievement.
* During the part covering the “bored” teenage years a word sounding like “bank” is used showing the actor against a view of a battered car. It seems to infer that the youth had narrowly avoided involvement in serious crime, but was saved by his desire to join the Navy. The clip is so short that it is impossible to be sure, which is probably the intention in the first place.
David Collins served in the Royal Marines and is a member of VFP UK