Monday, April 18, 2011

First Blood - Ted Kotcheff

"I didn't do anything"
-John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone)

Let's put things clear from the beginning: the Rambo saga is not a masterpiece. However, the Rambo movies are still worth watching for a number of reasons that I will explain over the next days. Let's start by First Blood (or "Rambo I", as it is usually known), the first part of the sequel.

Reagan once said that after watching First Blood, he knew exactly what to do with Libya -he bombed one of Moammar Al Qadhafi's personal palaces, in case you were wondering. Given that Libya will be in the media for a couple of months, which is a good leitmotif to talk about the movies.

I will defend First Blood based on two arguments:

1. Rambo shows how the Vietnam veterans were received once the Vietnam War was over. War Veterans are considered heroes in the United States today: they get student loans at lower rates and can get preferential seats in some domestic flights. That was not the case after the Vietnam War. For all the good things that it brought to Earth, the hippie movement failed to see that the kids who went to Vietnam were basically lied about what war was. The Vietnam vets were as alienated as those who escaped the draft. Unfortunately, the lucky ones who didn't fight didn't show any empathy. 

First Blood is a tribute to all those veterans who, in Rambo's words, were "in charge of million dollar equipment in Vietnam but couldn't find a job parking cars" when they came back. The movie is in fact a critique against the establishment, which is why it was successful among teenagers when it was released -it's one of the first movies where an American kills other Americans consciously. From that perspective, it's really sad that Rambo became a symbol of American imperialism and militarism (there's a nerdy explanation about how Reagan changed the meaning of the movie here). 

2. When people think about action movies they have this idea of multi-million dollar productions with ridiculously huge special effects. First Blood received a small budget, even for the standards of its time. However, economic limitations did not prevent it from becoming a tremendous commercial success. Stallone's stunts are better than any special effects: you can see true pain in his face.

And one final thing: there are no really "good" or "bad" characters in First Blood. But the spectator is still forced to make a choice as to whether Rambo or Teasle is right and wrong.

I actually have to revisit the first paragraph of this post: First Blood IS a masterpiece.

No comments:

Post a Comment