Friday, March 6, 2009

Waltzing Alone

Earlier this week I saw the film Waltz With Bashir, an Israeli film (Hebrew with subtitles) nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Apparently the film was quite popular, though controversial, in Israel and was pushed heavily by the Israeli government for Oscar consideration. Waltz With Bashir is an animated (mostly) film dealing with Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon. As a work of art, Waltz With Bashir is tremendous. The story is both gripping and compelling, the animation is unique in its implementation and style, and even the music helps set the time and place. The viewer cannot help but be drawn into the protagonist’s quest to remember the nature of his involvement in the war.

While the comparison may not be fair and the analogy may not be perfect, for an American audience Waltz With Bashir is somewhat reminiscent of films like The Deer Hunter, Platoon, and Apocalypse Now. And therein lies the problem. When an American audience sees one of those films, they are (usually) already intimately familiar with Vietnam and the events being recounted. Similarly, in Israel, audiences are completely familiar with the invasion of Lebanon, including the years of the Lebanese civil war, the PLO terrorist attacks launched from southern Lebanon, and the Syrian involvement in Lebanon. Israeli audiences are knowledgeable about Bashir Gemayal, the Phalange party, the disputes between Sunnis, Shi’ites, Druze, and Maronite Catholics (among others) that were at the heart of the Lebanese Civil War. And Israeli audiences are acutely aware of the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps as well as the findings of the Kahan Commission that investigated that incident and the eventual political fallout that impacted the Israeli political landscape. But I suspect that very few members of an American audience will have much, if any, knowledge or understanding of these events.

To Israelis (and, I suspect, many Jewish supporters of Israel), the issues that are at the core of Waltz With Bashir provide an ideal opportunity for communal soul-searching and coming to terms with history, much as a film like Platoon served a similar (though not identical) role in America. Israelis could discuss among themselves whether they thought the Lebanon War (often referred to as Israel’s Vietnam) was a just war, whether they believe that Israel gained anything by its involvement in Lebanon, whether the type of force used against the Palestinian terrorists operating in southern Lebanon was appropriate, whether, by the time of the 2006 invasion of Lebanon, Israel had learned from past mistakes, and whether Israel was right to ally itself with the Maronites or intervene in the Lebanese civil war. Even more importantly, Waltz With Bashir gave Israeli audiences the chance to have a heartfelt discussion about the cost of sending young soldiers off to war (especially a complicated war that the soldiers may not have fully understood). And finally, the film gave Israeli audiences, operating with twenty-five years’ hindsight, the chance and reason to talk about Israel’s complicity in the Sabra and Shatila massacre, Ariel Sharon’s involvement, and the findings of the Kahan Commission. In other words, I suspect that to an Israeli audience, viewing Waltz With Bashir is an almost cathartic exercise.

One other crucial difference between an Israeli audience and an American audience is worth noting: Israelis also come to films like this with a different perspective than American audiences due to the fact that almost all Israeli youth serve a period of time in the Israel Defense Forces, unlike the US military which remains an all volunteer force. During Vietnam, the US had a draft, but even then many Americans never served. In Israel, all but the ultra-Orthodox and Israel’s Arab population serve in the military for several years after high school and then for a period of time every year until about age 45. Israel’s Bedouin and Druze populations do serve in the Israel Defense Forces. So, essentially every single Israeli watching the film has served in the military [or will, if not yet 18] and, most likely, is continuing such service. Thus, the impact of the film and the issues it raises are much, much more direct and personal to an Israeli audience.

But to an audience without the understanding of the time and events, Waltz With Bashir is a completely different film. To those viewers, I think the film does an excellent job as a standard anti-war film, arguing that violence may not really serve a purpose and it is the innocent who most suffer. More problematically, for those who are already convinced of Israel’s “war crimes” (and here I mean not just Sabra and Shatila, but also the alleged “war crimes” in Israel’s efforts to stop terrorist attacks against its citizens, including the recent incursion into Gaza), Waltz With Bashir will do nothing more than reinforce the already held belief that Israel is culpable or, perhaps, that Israelis are bloodthirsty monsters who haven’t learned from the past.

This last point is, I believe, almost accidentally made by the film. As we see Israeli soldiers marching and riding into Lebanon, we see them firing at everything. And, with one notable exception, we never see those firing at the Israeli soldiers. One time, we see a group of PLO fighters after an engagement with Israeli soldiers, but they are not firing their weapons at that point. Again, with one exception, every time that we see shots being fired at Israelis they are coming from darkened windows, buildings in the distance, or places unknown. The enemy is never given a face. The one exception involves a group of Israeli soldiers walking through an orchard when a young boy fires an RPG at the Israelis. The boy is then killed in a hail of gunfire. Thus, the only time that a face is put upon the enemy is in the guise of a child. I suspect that the filmmaker was not suggesting that all of the Palestinian fighters were innocent; nor do I suspect that he was even suggesting that Israel is wrong to try to stop terrorism. Instead, given that the focus of the movie is upon the impact of war upon those who fought it, I suspect that the filmmaker was purposely dehumanizing the enemy (or making the enemy invisible) in order to ensure that the focus of the film and the audience’s thought process remained on the Israeli soldiers about whom the story is written. Depictions of those that the Israelis are fighting against could detract from the self-analysis that the filmmaker is striving for. An visible enemy allows the audience to focus outward; an invisible enemy forces the audience to focus inward.

(And here I want to briefly note one other interesting scene in the film [sorry, in advance for the spoiler]. At one point, the narrator mentions the advent of car bombings. Several soldiers are sent off to patrol and told to be on the watch for a red Mercedes that intelligence says will be used as a car bomb. While waiting and watching, an ice cream truck approaches the soldiers. Frankly, it isn’t clear whether the ice cream truck is real, an illusion, or a way to bring the events of Lebanon back to the present or to things familiar to the soldiers. But in any event, as I watched that ice cream truck approach the soldiers’ position, I couldn’t help but wonder whether it was the car bomb. I don’t know if others had the same reaction; perhaps those who have not seen ambulances used to transport suicide bombers or women who pack explosives around their waists to disguise themselves as pregnant would never think that an ice cream truck might bring murder and death. I don’t know. But that brief moment had quite an impact on me.)

So here is the problem. Israelis watch Waltz With Bashir. They are engaged by the film and the issues that it raises. They understand those issues and they use the film to help them look at themselves and their country. They can synthesize the message from the film with their own viewpoints and those of their friends, family, and other Israelis, to help them make informed decisions about what is best for themselves and for Israel. And then they can go to the polls and elect leaders and try to work within their democratic system to move Israeli politics, culture, and actions in the direction that best fits their will and view. Just like here in America.

But that same discussion, the opportunity for cathartic self-analysis, the recognition that history isn’t always pretty or friendly, and the communal mea culpa for having done bad things is not going on in Lebanon or Syria or Iran or Egypt or the rest of the Muslim world. As Israelis try to come to terms with their own past, most of the Muslim world still refuses to take a critical self-analysis and examination of historical events, let alone actions like terrorism. The Muslim world is still watching films and television mini-series that glorify anti-Semitism, that refuse to acknowledge any historical Jewish links to Jerusalem, that dramatize the fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that advocate the martyrdom of children in the name of killing "Zionists”. The Muslim world is happy to examine the wrongdoings of Israel, but is wholly unwilling to examine their own culpability; in fact, the Muslim world is even seeking to use the United Nations to limit critical discussion of Islam itself.

And in the West, audiences who may already be hostile to Israel (or even merely ambivalent) and who don’t understand how an Israeli audience (for whom the film was made) sees the film or the issues raised therein, will watch Waltz With Bashir and take away from it what they already “know”: that Israel is the “bad guy” who is at least complicit in, if not outright guilty of, the murders of women and children. The audience with whom I saw the film (there was a panel discussion following the movie) included many people who took from the movie the simple message that “war is bad” and “stop the violence” and those people seemed interesting in helping to promote peace. But right now, only one side is listening to those voices; in fact, only one side has a means of communication to which those voices can be addressed. How, precisely, does a concerned American tell Hamas or Hezbollah to “stop the violence”?

Thus, while Israelis' engage in dialogue over moral dilemmas and the consequences of actions, that dialogue takes place in a vacuum while those around them may use that dialogue, not as a point of pride or as evidence of an open and honest society, but, rather, as a tool of condemnation.

As I said during the panel discussion following the film (less articulately, I’m sure), Israelis want to talk about their issues and they want to discuss these issues with the Muslim world in general and the Palestinians in particular. But, at present, the Israelis are having a dialogue by themselves as the Muslim world refuses to look inward and backward at itself. So, for the time being, the Israeli self-analysis and catharsis facilitated by Waltz With Bashir is not a two-way street; in essence, Israelis are waltzing alone.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Regal Cinema's Disregard for Patrons and Films (update) a/k/a When Disney Talks, Regal Listens

As I mentioned in my entry Regal Cinema's Disregard for Patrons and Films posted on Monday, my family and I had a poor experience when we went to see WALL-E at our local Regal cinema. As I also mentioned in that post, this was far from the first time that we've had problems with Regal. However, in the past, when I've complained to Regal (including my 2005 letter to Regal's CEO), I've received no response whatsoever.

After posting Monday's story, I decided that I needed to be sure Regal and, more importantly, Pixar were aware of the problem (I certainly doubt that Regal's manager told her supervisors about the problem...). So, I did two things. First, I left a voice mail message at the number for Regal's Customer Relations Department (available here). Then, I called Pixar. After hunting around through the most entertaining voice mail system that I've ever encountered, I was eventually able to connect to an operator. I briefly explained the problem and she said that I "absolutely" needed to bring it to the attention of Pixar's public relations department and transferred me. I was forced to leave a voice mail message (which I did with a fair amount of detail).

And there I left things, wondering if I would ever hear any more about the episode. I wasn't left wondering for long. Yesterday afternoon, less than 24 hours after leaving my message with Pixar, I received a call from Disney (Pixar's parent). It was clear that my voice mail message to Pixar had made its way up the Pixar/Disney corporate ladder. The gentleman from Disney with whom I spoke was extremely courteous and apologetic, even though I kept reiterating that Pixar had nothing to apologize for. He described Pixar's "Perfect Projection Program" (and jokingly noted that Regal didn't seem to qualify for that award). We spoke for some time and had a good discussion about issues like artistic integrity and the entire movie-going experience. Most importantly, he indicated that Disney/Pixar was not happy with the situation and that he had already been in contact with management at Regal to discuss the situation.

Now, here's the interesting part. Remember when I mentioned that in the past I'd received no response from Regal when I complained. Well, it appears that when Disney complains, Regal is very quick to respond. Shortly after getting to work this morning, I received a call from the general manager of the Regal Village Park Cinema. He was very apologetic and, smartly, did not try to make any excuses. He simply said that what happened was wrong. He and I spoke for some time about what a theater patron should expect. During our conversation, I asked whether he was calling because of the voice mail that I'd left with Regal's customer relations department or as a result of Disney contacting Regal. He responded that he heard about the matter from supervisors in Regal management as a result of Disney's communication. Not long after that conversation ended, I received a voice mail from Regal's customer relations manager and he and I spoke a while later. Like the general manager, he was also very apologetic. Both managers were interested in the complaints that I had related to Cloverfield and the matters that I'd set out in my 2005 letter. The customer relations manager seemed surprised that I'd never received a response to my 2005 letter. He was also surprised that I had not yet heard from Regal's district manager. Anyway, I want to commend both the general manager and the customer relations manager on the professionalism and on their expressed concern over the entire episode.

So the question that remains is this: If I hadn't called Pixar, would I have heard from Regal? Would my voice mail to Regal's customer relations have been relegated to the digital equivalent to the circular file (as my 2005 letter apparently was)? Or would Regal have responded and apologized for the event? And, if Regal did respond without Disney's intervention, what is the likelihood that the response would have been quite so rapid?

Just wondering...


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Monday, June 30, 2008

Regal Cinema's Disregard for Patrons and Films

I love to go to movies. I really enjoy going to a new blockbuster film on opening night. Usually, my wife and I (and our kids, when appropriate) go to the Regal Cinemas Village Park Stadium 17 in Westfield (or Carmel, depending on who you ask), Indiana. The theater is close to our house, has decent stadium-style seating, and ample parking. Unfortunately, the management at the theater has very little, if any, regard for the patrons that pay to see films. This past weekend, that disregard sank to a new low, one that was, I believe, a fraud perpetrated upon unsuspecting patrons and their kids.

On Friday afternoon, we took our kids (8½-year-old twins) to see WALL-E (which they had been looking forward to). We got our candy, popcorn, and drinks and settled into a crowded theater to watch the film. The movie started and everything seemed fine and normal. Then, about 20 minutes or so into the movie, there was what appeared to be an odd-edit and the story jumped forward in the narrative chronology. Having not seen the movie before, I just accepted this as part of the storytelling technique and kept watching, although numerous elements of the story made little sense. But then, about 20 minutes later, the film jumped back to the point in the story where the previous jump had occurred. For a moment -- a brief moment -- I thought that the story was being told through a flashback. Then I realized that this was a Pixar (Disney) film aimed at kids; I wasn't seeing Memento or Rashemon or Pulp Fiction. No, what I was watching was a film that was being shown out of order.

My wife drew the proverbial short straw and left the theater to find a manager to complain. She spoke to a member of the Regal management team who explained that they were aware of the problem. The manager "offered" to let us move to a different theater for a showing of the film that started 30 minutes after the show that we'd purchased tickets for "if we were unhappy" with how they were showing the movie. My wife told the manager that the other patrons should be told that there was a problem with the movie and the manager replied that they were "discussing" what to do about the problem.

So, we moved theaters, missed the first 15 minutes or so (that we'd already seen), and then watched about 30 minutes all over again (in the right order this time). The kids seemed to find the whole thing to be kind of an adventure.

When we left the theater after the movie (which I enjoyed very much, both as a movie aimed at kids and as a more serious science fiction film), we sought out a manager to continue the discussion of the issue. During that discussion, the manager indicated that she had suspicions that the film was out of order the night before yet did nothing. Moreover, she did not make any kind of announcement to those who had not complained and sat through the out-of-order version of the movie. I asked her, rhetorically, how many kids might have been confused by the out-of-order storytelling and she just shrugged and said that she didn't think that people would have a difficult time piecing the story together for themselves. We told her that we thought that the theater's management had, in essence, committed a fraud upon those purchasing a ticket for a film that the management knew or should have known was damaged. Again, she just shrugged, and, in essence, told us "tough shit; I don't really care".

And, lest you think that this was an isolated example of a problem, rest assured that it was not. Several months ago, we saw Cloverfield in the same theater. As those who saw Cloverfield can attest, it relies upon an interesting storytelling and video style. When the film began, a thin green line ran from the top to the bottom of the screen about ¼ of the way across the screen. The green line was very, very distracting, but we thought that it was just part of the video style that the director had intended. It wasn't until about 15 minutes into the film when the line was still present that we realized that it was actually a scratch on the film rather than a part of the actual storytelling. We were about to complain when the line finally went away.

After the movie ended, we asked to speak to a manager. (Interestingly, the manager that we spoke to then was the same manager that we spoke to Friday night.) She acknowledged the scratch on the film and, more importantly, indicated that it had been there since the night before. In other words, she acknowledged that they sold tickets for several shows to see a film that they knew was damaged and that they didn't tell anyone or warn people that the film was damaged. Had I been told, prior to buying my ticket, that the film was damaged, I would have waited and seen a different showing, come another night, or gone to another theater.

Consider, for a moment, if this was a DVD that you rented from Blockbuster. How would you feel if Blockbuster knew that the DVD was scratched, but rented it to you anyway? You get home, pop some popcorn, turn off the lights, snuggle in with your loved one for a night of movie watching, and then the movie skips. When you call Blockbuster to complain, they say, "Oh, yeah. That copy is damaged. Bring it back and we'll let you watch a different copy." Would you be satisfied? Or, imagine if, rather than a movie, the product being sold was a car and the dealer knew that the tires were defective? If the product were a hamburger and the restaurant knew that it was contaminated with e-coli? If the product were a _____ [insert your favorite product here] and the store that sold it to you knew that it was defective. Wouldn't that be a fraud? To knowingly sell a product or service that one knows is defective (especially when non-defective versions are available) is nothing less than the perpetration of fraud upon unsuspecting consumers. It is wrong. It might be criminal.

And, just consider one other thing for a moment. Movies are art. The people at Pixar spent years making WALL-E. Each scene was carefully thought out and composed to look just right. The story was written, tweaked, examined, and revised, so that it worked just right. When the director releases his film, he (or she) expects the artistic integrity of the final work to be maintained. Sure, the director and studio may agrue over final cuts and so forth, but once the film leaves the studio, the director knows that filmgoers are going to see the movie that the director and studio have created. A theater has no right to change the director's artistic vision or modify the artistic integrity of the film. Showing a film that the theater knows is damaged (as in Cloverfield) or showing a film out of order violates the artistic integrity of the film and is probably a breach of the director's moral rights and the studio's copyright in the film. And, while I understand that accidents happen, that doesn't explain either of these situations where the management of the theater knew that the films were damaged before selling tickets.

Why am I so pissed off? After all, it was just a movie and we got to see the whole thing in the right order. It pisses me off because I know that there was a theater full of people who didn't realize that there was a problem. More importantly, there was a theater full of kids who may not have understood what should, to them, have been a very entertaining story (with a message, no less). I'm pissed because the management of Regal Cinemas ruined the experience of seeing the movie for many people. I'm pissed because the management of Regal Cinemas violated the artistic integrity of the film (and, as someone who really enjoys movies, this is something that I take seriously). And, most of all, I'm pissed because the management of Regal Cinemas clearly doesn't give a fuck!

And when I say this, I'm not just engaging in some kind of angry hyperbole. Back in 2005 I got fed up with a number of problems at the theater (from stupidly long lines to filthy restrooms to theaters so cold that patrons would actually bring blankets into the theater [in summer, no less!] to managers who were aware of the problems but did nothing about them). So, I wrote a letter to the CEO of Regal Cinemas (and sent a copy to the local theater's management). After a month or so, I received no response whatsoever. So, I followed up with a phone call to a customer support number at Regal's corporate offices. They promised to look into the matter and get back to me. Of course, I never heard from them again. Thus, from these experiences, all I can conclude is that, as I asserted above, the management of Regal Cinemas simply doesn't care about their patrons. They don't care if they sell tickets to a damaged movie and they don't care about the quality of the experience of theater patrons. And this disregard appears to be a corporate philosophy. It appears to be a calculated decision that, if the theater is convenient, people will show up no matter how bad the experience may be, so there is no reason to make an effort to make the experience better. And when, from time to time, someone complains, just give them a free ticket and send them on their way. No harm, no foul. I wonder what Regal stockholders would have to say about that corporate philosophy?

On Saturday night, my wife and I went to see Wanted. We went to the new AMC theater that opened. It is a bit farther from the Regal theater and parking wasn't as easy. But the theater was clean, there weren't any lines for popcorn, the employees were friendly, and the movie wasn't damaged. I suspect that we'll be spending more of our entertainment dollars with AMC and fewer with Regal.


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Monday, February 4, 2008

Rambo (David Morrell's thoughts)

Over the weekend, my wife and I saw the movie Rambo. Overall, I enjoyed it (I didn't love it, but it was much better than I'd anticipated). Hopefully, I'll get around to posting a review on my personal website sometime soon. (Note: The film is very gory; I suspect that Sylvester Stallone added the gore to drive home the point that war is an angry, ugly, nasty thing, not the glorified vision depicted in Rambo II and Rambo III). Anyway, one of the things that I was interested in was the review of Rambo by David Morrell, the author of First Blood, the book upon which the first Rambo movie (also called First Blood) was based.

David Morrell is one of my favorite authors. Like any author, some of his books are better than others; but when Morrell is "on" he is as good as any writer I know at capturing suspense in the written word. I might go so far as to say that, other than Adam Hall, no other author is as good at capturing suspense (at least in the thriller genre). His novel The Brotherhood of the Rose is one of my all-time favorites; Testament is one of the most emotionally jarring and draining thrillers that I've ever read (just read the first sentence of that book, "It was the last morning the four of them would ever be together", and you'll get an idea what I mean), and First Blood is simply a great post-Vietnam book. I also highly recommend, The Totem, The Fraternity of the Stone, The League of Night and Fog, The Fifth Profession, Assumed Identity, Desperate Measures, Extreme Denial, Double Image, Burnt Sienna, and Long Lost. (Morrell's books that I haven't mentioned aren't bad, they're just not as good as his others, but most are still much better than a lot of generic thrillers.)

I've always had fun with John Rambo, but much as I prefer Ian Fleming's James Bond to the caricature that he became in many of the movies, it is the Rambo from the novel First Blood that has stuck with me.

So, when I first heard that Sylvester Stallone was working on a new Rambo movie, I was curious to know what Morrell thought. I was distressed to learn that he was not involved at all. Thus, my hopes for the quality of Rambo weren't high. The fact that Morrell wasn't even given an opportunity to review the movie before its release was troubling. Was the studio afraid that he would pan it the way Clive Cussler trashed Sahara before it was released (which led to litigation...)?

As I mentioned, I didn't love the movie, but I did enjoy it. As I said to my wife when we left the theater, the movie did seem to capture the character of Rambo and didn't try to be anything more than a Rambo movie.

Well, Morrell has finally posted his thoughts on the movie Rambo on his website. Ordinarily, I would leave it at that and let readers go to his site and read his review; however, as I couldn't find a permanent link to the page with the review (it is on a What's New page that appears to change each month or so), I decided to copy his review below (I hope that he doesn't mind).

Many of you contacted me to ask what I think of the fourth RAMBO movie. I'm happy to report that overall I’m pleased. The level of violence might not be for everyone, but it has a serious intent.

This is the first time that the tone of my novel FIRST BLOOD has been used in any of the movies. It's spot-on in terms of how I imagined the character—angry, burned-out, and filled with self-disgust because Rambo hates what he is and yet knows it's the only thing he does well. The character spends a lot of time in the rain as if trying to cleanse his soul. There's a nightmare scene involving vivid images from the three previous films (they indicate the emotional burden he carries). There's a scene in which Rambo forges a knife and talks to himself, basically admitting that he hates himself because all he knows is how to kill. At the start, Rambo is gathering cobras in the jungle, and he's so comfortable with them, it's as if, because of his past, the most developed part of him is his limbic brain. He has nothing to fear from another creature of death. In the cathartic violence of the climax, he uses a machine gun that evokes the way wounded William Holden uses a machine gun at the end of THE WILD BUNCH (one of my favorite films). Indeed much of RAMBO has Peckinpah overtones while it also uses tropes from the novel (again, for example, there's an exciting sequence in which Rambo is hunted by dogs).

Another excellent element involves the film's archetypal, mythic overtones. Rambo is hardly ever called by his last name. Instead, he keeps being referred to as "the Boatman" because he earns his living with a boat on a river in Thailand. But after he's called "the Boatman" enough, I start thinking of the River Styx and the journey of death as depicted in Greek myth. Similarly, the knife-forging sequence reminds me of Hephaestus, the armorer of the Greek gods (in the sequence, Rambo even talks about whether God can forgive him for what he's done). Sly is definitely sophisticated enough to embed these sorts of allusions. The earlier Rambo movies were a combination of a Tarzan movie and a western. That is also the case here. The knife (again designed by master blade-maker Gil Hibben), the bow and arrow, Rambo racing through the jungle—these scenes are primal and breath-taking.

Some of you sent me emails, suggesting that maybe a younger actor would have been better for the fourth movie. But it’s important to remember that Rambo (unlike James Bond) is specific to a historical period: the Vietnam War. My novel FIRST BLOOD was published in 1972. If Rambo were a real person, he would have been perhaps 22 at the time. In 2008, he would be 58. Sylvester Stallone is a few years older than that, but basically he is the correct age, and in the new movie, he interprets the character in an older way. That's one reason he put on the weight—so he would look different from the trim muscular image he had in the 1980s Rambo movies.

Some elements could have been done better. The villains are superficial, to say the least. A lot could have been done with the connection between drug lords and the military in what the film calls Burma, dramatizing that money earned from the heroin trade motivates their brutality. Instead, they’re merely depicted as psychopaths. In a baffling moment, heroin somehow gets equated with meth, which is something entirely different and has nothing to do with the poppies grown in that area of the world.

Otherwise, I think this film deserves a solid three stars. Even the NEW YORK TIMES treated it well, emphasizing the way the character is given depth. Rambo is no longer the jingoistic character of the second and third films. The most telling line of dialogue is, “I didn’t kill for my country. I killed for myself. And for that, I don’t believe God can forgive me.” While that statement is in keeping with my novel FIRST BLOOD, it’s jaw-dropping when compared with the dialogue in the second and third Rambo films.

Some posters list me as an associate producer. This is an error. I was not involved with the production, and this time around, I didn’t write a novelization for the movie. But I do receive two credits. One is a single card "created by" credit before the names of the screenwriters. At the end, after the final surprising, poetic, redeeming sequence, another credit says "From the novel FIRST BLOOD by David Morrell." Two credits aren’t the way Hollywood usually treats a novelist. The second reference seems to acknowledge that the series has returned to the tone of the original novel. To say again, the violence is a solid R, but the intent is serious. I was blown away.

If you have any questions about the original book or how I invented the character, etc., please go to the FAQ page of this website. There are several items that might interest you, including the fact that Rambo's name is partially indebted to a Pennsylvania apple.

Happy reading.

So go visit Morrell's website, take a look at his background and the books that he's written, and then, go buy one of his books and read it! You'll be glad that you did.

Update (February 8, 2008): I received permission from David Morrell to include his review. Also, he noted that when he posts his "What's New" for March, he will move his review of Rambo to the FAQ page of this website. I thank Mr. Morrell for allowing his review to be posted here.


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