Rambo’s cinematic nativity First Blood borrows significantly from America’s pastoral heritage. Like some mythological figure, he – among the most iconic of action heroes – is inexorably connected to the woods—they gave birth to him (in more ways than one), and it is to the woods that he both continually comes and goes. Tempting as it is to rhapsodize over the many awesome things Rambo does in the movie – from ambushing the police in the woods to his one-man apocalypse that brings a city to its knees – it’s crucial to consider the natural progression of the film itself. Bits of action are orchestrated between largely atmospheric sequences that not only call attention to the gorgeous location photography shot at Golden Ears Park in British Columbia, but also carry an ethereal presence not often associated with the action genre. An elegiac prologue at a country home gives way to a slow burning urban paranoia that culminates in a chase leading back to the woods. Always back to woods, like an irrepressible refrain. Something innate within Rambo beckons him to return to nature, a call of the wild to which he always answers.
Cullen Gallagher is a Brooklyn-based writer, musician, and curator whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Life Sentence, Moving Image Source, Bright Lights Film Journal, Beat to a Pulp, NoirCon, Crimefactory, Film Comment, The L Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Fandor, Not Coming to a Theater Near You, Hammer to Nail, Spinetingler, Between Lavas, Reverse Shot, and Guitar Review. He records instrumental music as Modern Silent Cinema and plays in the hardcore band Night Squad.