How The Movie First Blood Was Decades Ahead of Its Time

So we all got a kick out of watching Stallone blow up half a mountainside and show a bunch of bumbling town cops what they were really messing with, yeah? It was awesome to see how he tore through their office without much a struggle and left them all gasping for breath on a daring chase into the wilds. But the reason behind this was something that not a lot of people gave any serious thought to. The idea of PTSD was still relatively new at that point however, and as a serious condition not a lot of people had given it much attention. So in truth, Rambo: First Blood was kind of ahead of its time in showcasing an issue that far too many soldiers have dealt with since long before this issue was addressed.

Here are a few reasons why Rambo: First Blood was such an eye-opening film.

PTSD wasn’t added to the DSM-III until around 1980

Up until this point soldiers coming home from war were said to be shell-shocked or suffering what was termed as soldier’s heart. It was the earliest forms of PTSD that were noticed in soldiers that had seen combat. They were restless, edgy, and always seemingly ready for something to happen. No matter what they tried they couldn’t seem to relax or even enjoy a normal life. It is very much the same today for those suffering from this disorder. In First Blood Stallone displays the classic signs of PTSD when he’s being harassed by the town cops back at the station.

PTSD can be triggered by nearly anything

It could be a sight, sound, smell, or a simple memory that brings back the trauma that the individual has suffered. For John Rambo it was the prospect of being shaved clean with a straight razor that brought back his days in the POW camp when he was mercilessly tortured by his captors. While it might not be believed that this violent reaction is real it is in fact a fair representation of the effect that PTSD can have upon an individual. While they might not become as inherently violent and focused enough to cause physical harm to another, those with PTSD can in fact cause harm through no fault of their own.

PTSD is not only felt by war veterans

While Rambo made a great case for the effects of war on its survivors, it also brought public awareness to the fact that PTSD is in fact real and presents a problem. PTSD is not simply related to war and can be felt by virtually any individual that has undergone severe trauma in their lives. Those that have undergone severe abuse in any stage of their lives can develop PTSD, as can those that have witnessed or in some way been exposed to such traumatic events. How each person deals with their own disorder depends on their level of stress and how they have dealt with the trauma in their own way. In the case of John Rambo it is seen that the act of acclimating to the world he left has become his major stress point, and has yet to be resolved.

As an action flick nearly everyone enjoyed Rambo: First Blood. It was a gripping story about a man that upon returning home from the war simply wants to live in peace. When he’s pushed however, he shows his aggressors exactly what it means to go to war. Perhaps the final and most telling line that showcases Rambo’s ongoing PTSD and his willingness to keep fighting is “Nothing is over! Nothing! You don’t just turn it off!” That line alone speaks volumes.

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