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Memory Lanes #10 – The Synth Squad – Pete Trautmann

For this edition of Memory Lanes, we wanted to seize the opportunity to tip our hats to our peers in the scene and acknowledge the incredible work and dedication they’ve brought to the scene. Hailing from Paris, the Synth Squad have been putting just about

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For this edition of Memory Lanes, we wanted to seize the opportunity to tip our hats to our peers in the scene and acknowledge the incredible work and dedication they’ve brought to the scene. Hailing from Paris, the Synth Squad have been putting just about every other Synthwave related media to shame through their consistent hard-work, spotless knowledge and all-seeing eye across the scene. From weekly recommendations to podcasts featuring prominent names within the scene, the duo behind the Synth Squad has turned their servers into a goldmine of musical discovery and interviews. I caught up with the squad last week to get a recommendation from them. Our discussion begins with Pete Trautmann, who decided to share the story behind his long-standing love for the Sylvester Stallone.

So what’ve you got for us today?

Pete Trautmann:

I’m going with Rambo III. I must’ve been nine or ten years old when I first saw it and it sparked my life-long interest in Stallone’s film career. It was typically the kind of films that would come on Sundays on Ciné Dimanche on TF1 (French TV) after a more family-friendly film. I’d tape those films and watch them on Wednesday since we didn’t have class on Wednesday mornings. I’d be alone at home, my parents were at work and I was allowed to watch what I had taped, they were pretty lenient in that regard.

Rambo is alongside the colonel Samuel Trautman, the dialogue is lighthearted and the film is filled with one-liners that stick with you when you’re a kid. For example, there’s this famous scene where Trautman is being interrogated by the Russian colonel Zaysen, who asks him where the American missiles are, to which he responds “in your ass!”. Apparently that’s where the French expression comes from (note: the French version “dans ton cul” is a very commonly used response).

You’ve got all facets of Rambo in the third movie. You also see Rambo suffer and deal with pain, namely with the scene where he cauterises his open wound with gunpowder. Stallone is a real badass in this one. The Trautman-Rambo duo is simply amazing, too. Even when they’re surrounded by choppers and Spetsnaz commando officers, they’re spitting one-liners at one another.

Like a lot of his Hollywood action movie-star peers, Stallone got a pretty hefty ego readjustment around that era, too. Few people dared to work with them, because you could be sure that half of the movie production would be on set before shooting because of disagreements with the script, the shots and whatnot. They weren’t the kind to take hints from anyone. But Rambo III came right after the box-office failure that was Over the Top, a redneck road movie where Stallone tries to reconnect with his son by taking him on a road trip as a trucker. The film was a disaster and they lost loads of money. Stallone was also going through a divorce with his second wife and had to pay out millions of dollars. Given that Rambo: First Blood Part II was the biggest box-office hit of 1985, the studios are obsessed with the idea of topping that success. The film cost 63 million dollars but only earned 100 million.

What is it that draws you to Stallone, in particular?

There are a number of things that came with time. When I was little, I was into the big buff action side of things. Stallone stood alone and would wreck everything around him, especially in the Rambo movies. There could be 125 guys shooting at him and they’d all miss him, whereas he’d kill them all with only three shots. In Rambo III he kills 72 out of the 125 guys that die in the movie.

Then there’s also the fact that we were served a ton of Stallone movies in the Nineties. There’d be a new movie of his every other year. I really liked the fact that his movies told so many different stories. He was a NASCAR driver in Driven, a mountain climber in Cliffhanger and an old school cop in a non-violent future in Demolition Man.

I saw the Rocky and Rambo movies in reverse order but I’d always stop before the first movies because I used to think they were boring movies when I was a kid. There were fewer fights and more dialogue. You eventually grow older and open your mind up, though [Laughs]. When I was a teenager, I discovered how great of an actor he was and saw his films in a new light. That’s when I found out First Blood, which I initially thought to be a pro-war movie, was really a critique of the Viet-Nam war and the way war veterans were carelessly reintroduced into society and left to become social pariahs.

It’s pretty interesting to note that these sequels wouldn’t have been possible, had they not taken liberties from the source material.

That’s right. I actually re-read the 1972 novel recently. Rambo actually dies at the end of it. However, producers Mario Kassar and Andrew Vajna of Carolco Pictures couldn’t just kill off the character in the movie. What’s pretty interesting is that they also got David Morell, the author of the original First Blood novel, to write the novels to Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III, based off the movie scripts. It was a pretty common practice at the time. The books were part of the movie merchandising and would be released at the same time as the movie, with the poster as the front cover. The books more or less followed the same plotline, with some changes. In the Rambo III novelization, they added a female doctor character who treats the wounded Afghan soldiers, whom Rambo and Trautman need to protect and escort to safety.

 

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