Blog Directory CineVerse: Punch-drunk love for a classic film

Punch-drunk love for a classic film

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Yes, the obligatory training montage it introduced has become cliche in sports movies. Absolutely, the main theme has become co-opted as the aural wallpaper for gym rats everywhere. And sure, it spawned nearly as many sequels as slasher horror icons Jason and Freddy did. But there's no denying how utterly emotionally infectious the first "Rocky" film is, even 40 years following its theatrical debut. How do we love "Rocky" after all these years? Let us count the ways in the form of a proper film analysis:


WHY DO YOU THINK THIS FILM WAS SO IMMENSELY POPULAR WHEN IT WAS RELEASED IN 1976?
At its core, Rocky is a love story and a tale about a man trying to earn self-respect and dignity.
Among its themes: Cinderella, the underdog, the comeback kid, the ugly duckling—especially recognizing the ugly duckling/underdog in a fellow human being. Consider how Rocky identifies Adrian’s beauty despite the glasses and shyness, how Adrian recognizes the tenderness and caring behind Rocky’s burly exterior, and how Creed sees the potential within everyman boxer Rocky to exploit American values and appeal to fans. 
The film isn’t a rags-to-riches story about a nobody who beats the best in the ring. It’s an allegory for life: that it’s more important to go the distance and take the punches. That, and get the girl at the end.
It’s a knockout story that derives strength not from its threadbare plot, but from its finely detailed portraits of City of Brotherly Love losers. 
The main musical theme is indelibly marked in our cultural consciousness as an instant, rousing, motivational anthem
Before Rocky, 1970s cinema was steeped in pessimism and a dark, sobering gestalt that reflected the times (after all, this was the era of Watergate, Vietnam and the suppression of the counterculture). 
  • Rocky, with its stirring soundtrack and inspirational message, completely altered that mood and replaced the anti-hero with the hero. 
  • The two blockbuster films of the 1970s that are often credited with forever changing Hollywood—many say for the worse—are Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977). 
  • Sandwiched between them was Rocky, which, arguably, was just as influential when you consider the subgenre of sports movies and flicks about underdogs that gushed forth in its wake. 
  • It made $225 million on a $1 million production budget; Rocky has the seventh highest return on investment of any movie ever created.
HOW IS ROCKY DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SPORTS AND BOXING FILMS AS WELL AS THE ROCKY SEQUELS THAT FOLLOWED?
Rocky does not win the fight at the end, which left many viewers confused in 1976 and beyond. And to me, that’s a dead-on right denouement. 
There are technically only two boxing fights: at the beginning and at the end
Holds up surprisingly well upon repeat viewings because it dwells so long on simple, imperfect, tender, slice of life moments—like when Adrian (played by the never-better Talia Shire) allows Rocky to take off her glasses, revealing her deep brown eyes.
Depicts imperfect lives, ugly landscapes and awkward situations: by contrast, the Rocky sequels are very clich├ęd, over-produced and stylized, predictable, schmaltzy patriotism, and filled with stereotypes
Interesting in that the supposed villain, Apollo Creed, is actually quite a smart, admirable personality who’s hard to hate; here’s a strong African American character who has achieved power, wealth, fame and adulation, and exemplifies the best in his sport by the time of America’s bicentennial 
Yes, it’s technically a boxing movie, and it’s bookended as such, with a bout in the beginning and the main event at the end. But it’s neither a sports flick nor a pugilistic drama in the formalistic sense.

WHAT IS YOUR FEELING ON THE FILM’S CASTING? WHAT DID YOU THINK OF STALLONE’S PERFORMANCE?
There were many film critics—including Roger Ebert—who drew comparisons to Brando upon seeing Rocky in its initial release. 
Stallone plays big palooka Rocky Balboa with a rugged warmth and uncommon tenderness that hits you like a sucker punch. 
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it’s a character he carefully developed from a script he penned himself.
The four main leads are each quite good, although it’s easy to see how their characters get worn out quickly in hindsight after you’ve watched the sequels

FILMS THAT MAY HAVE INSPIRED ROCKY:
o Marty
o On the Waterfront
o The Champ
o Champion
o Requiem for a Heavyweight

OTHER FILMS BY JOHN G. AVILDSEN
o Save the Tiger (with Jack Lemmon)
o The original Karate Kid trilogy
o Lean on Me

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