Published on August 25th, 2014 | by Chris1
A Year in the Blue (2014)
Ever wonder what it would be like to go through the US Air Force Academy? Well, A Year in the Blue gives you a chance to follow the class of 2014 as they embark on just such an adventure. With dreams of becoming pilots and astronauts and officers in their eyes, they're thrown off the bus (almost literally) into a world they probably didn't imagine.
OK, so you knew it wasn't going to be frat parties and stuff, but I know I had no idea what actually goes on up there in Colorado Springs. You'll join the class of 2014 from their first bus ride into the Academy, all the way through their "recognition" at the end of their first year. It's not an easy journey, as you'll see the various struggles the cadets go through along the way.
First and foremost, the Academy is a military institution. Before their academic careers start, they're subject to the same(?) basic training as any recruit. That means running, weapons training, drills, obstacle courses, getting shouted at quite a bit, more running and drills, and probably some more just because. Top that off with the additional expectations and responsibilities of being a part of one of the US military's most elite facilities.... No, easy shouldn't even cross your mind.
I think a lot of the kids knew that going in, but it was clear a few of them had no clue what they were in for. By the end, though, I think they all arrived at the same conclusion, that sticking it out was the best thing that they could do. The difference in their faces as they fearfully and worn out, grind through the first few weeks, and then again after "recognition" where they once again become "real people" in their words, is priceless.
The entire section dedicated to the football rivalries was maybe a bit long in the tooth... and the iconic "Cadet Chapel" seems to make its presence felt quite a bit. I can't say I blame anyone for that, its a beautiful structure...
The film is also dotted with (extremely) brief excerpts of interviews with USAFA graduates. In most cases these snippets are so brief as to be forgettable, which is too bad. While the focus should remain with the "new kids," it would have been nice to explore these peoples' stories further. Also informative is the segment where they cover what happens at graduation, that even after four years of training to be the Air Force elite, you're still at the whim of the military as to what and where your assignment will be.
A Year in the Blue is "brought to you" by government contractor (and aircraft supplier) Boeing... What that means for you, the viewer, is unclear. I didn't notice any "hey we're Boeing and we're awesome, rah rah!" type of stuff, but know that going in, that its an "insider" piece. Nothing against the film makers, they did a hell of a job.
I would really like to have seen this follow the class all the way from first day to graduation, but I'm sure a four-year project like that would have been just a bit too long (and expensive) to handle. Not only that, but the end result would have to be a mini series to properly cover it!
Final verdict? If you're interested in the inner workings of the military's most elite academy (a statement I'm sure Annapolis and West Point disagree with completely) then you should absolutely check it out. I know when I was at the same point in my life as these kids I was briefly courted by the possibility of going there. I chose not to pursue it, and it was probably the right choice for me (for lots of reasons), but watching this would have been an eye-opener.
Summary: Join a brand new class of cadets at the US Air Force Academy.