Wednesday, September 1, 2010
First Blood Redux: A Love Story
"Flooding With Love For The Kid" is one of the best films of 2010 but it's not a conventional piece of filmmaking but a bold and ingenious piece of underground art. Here is a film scripted, edited, shot, directed and starring a stage actor named Zachary Oberzan, who with $96 dollars in hand and only his New York City 220 sq. ft. studio apartment at his disposal, made this film no holds barred and played every role in the movie. He performs each character with diversity and conviction.
The film is based on David Morrell's 1972 novel First Blood, which inspired the 1982 Sylvester Stallone movie of the same name. The difference screenplay wise is Oberzan's interpretation is more faithful to the novel. Prose from the book are even placed on screen to give scenes more context and mood.
The story of John Rambo, a quiet but volatile Vietnam vet who runs afoul of the local sheriff in a small town after he is arrested for vagrancy and then starts a one man war against the town's authorities is well known by most action film fans. But what Oberzan does is dig deeper into the original story's themes that the Stallone film ignored: the war fatigue and scarring of two bitter veterans (Rambo and the sheriff, Will Teasle, a Korean war vet.) and the disenfranchisement they both face in post war life. This film also further develops the Teasle character almost to the point where Rambo takes a backseat. Teasle is in the middle of a rough divorce from his wife who has left him and the challenge of pursuing Rambo after he has escaped from his custody only puts his self worth as a man to the test even more.
The film's total lack of production value is pretty much an opportunity for laughs. But, he doesn't hide or apologize for his no budget limitations but instead embraces them. Oberzan uses basic costumes and any small props he can get his hands on. Stuffed animals are used as forest critters, a ceiling fan is used as a helicopter propeller, and a sink faucet is utilized as a river stream! His use of simple sound effects also forces the viewer to suspend disbelief and use the imagination to compensate for the lack of locations. His kitchen is used in a diner scene, his living room is used for not only the police station but also the treacherous forest that Rambo finds himself trying to hide and survive in!
Oberzan displays real ingenuity, invention and above all else, bravery with this project. What could have easily been a laughing stock becomes a highly ambitious and soulful story of post traumatic stress, survival, loss, violence and male machismo gone to tragic extremes. At 107 minutes, you become absorbed and compelled by the power of the tale being told. This film proves that story is king.