1985 — “Rambo: First Blood Part 2” premieres

As sequels go, it’s hard to find one that twists the message of its original installment quite as much as “Rambo: First Blood Part 2”. “First Blood” was a film about a Vietnam veteran who had no place in an America that wanted to pretend that war had never happened. It had more in common with films like “Deliverance” or “Southern Comfort” than it did with its own sequels.

In “Rambo: First Blood Part 2”, there’s no subtlety, no subtext. Eschewing the suspense and psychological aspects of the first film, it’s unashamedly triumphalist, and was one of the major sources of the myth that there were still American POWs in Vietnam. It was, of course, vastly more commercially successful than the first film, and made Sylvester Stallone an A list actor in Hollywood.

Referenced in:
Rambozo the Clown — Dead Kennedys

1605 — “Don Quixote” first published

Widely seen as the first modern novel, Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” (in full, “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha”) remains a classic even today. It is a deconstruction and an affectionate parody of the chivalric romances that had dominated fiction in Europe for several centuries prior to its publication. The plot of the book concerns a deluded man named Alonso Quijano, whose head has been addled by reading too many chivalric romances. Adopting the name Don Quixote, he sets out to perform what he considers appropriately knightly endeavours.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t go along with his delusions, and this conflict is the origin of most of the book’s famous comedy. Famously, Quixote attempts to battle windmills, believing them to be giants – from whence the phrase ’tilting at windmills’ originates. He is also the origin of the word quixotic. To say that Quixote – the character and the book – cast a long, long shadow over Western literature is to understate the case: this one book is more influential than all but the most important and well-known of Shakespeare’s plays, for example.

Referenced in:
Rambozo the Clown — Dead Kennedys