Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Italian Stallion

Until last night, I had never seen the original "Rocky" movie. I'm ashamed to admit that as I'm from Pennsylvania, and I love Philly, but sadly, there remains an embarrassingly long list of movies that I should have seen already and haven't.

January's off to a quiet start as I'm abstaining from alcohol for the month, and it tends to limit your evening social activities. I was bored last night, and the only movies on TV were "Ironman," which I've seen a few too many times, and "The Crow," which I nixed because I wasn't really in a vengeant mood. Rather than go back out to the redbox, I checked my on demand and decided it was high time that I moved Rocky into the plus column of my movie checklist.

"Rocky" came out in 1976. I was born in 1981. While I was growing up, I watched every Van Damme movie in the video rental store multiple times. I'd seen "Bloodsport" somewhere between a million and infinity times. There's just nothing like mindless, plotless ass-whooping to nurture a teenage boy's brain.

These days, I...well, my taste hasn't changed much. Watching Rocky actually led me to some surprising (to me, at least) realizations.

Movies nowadays not only cater to, but probably also shorten our (already short) attention spans. Every time the camera watched Rocky walk down the road, I was waiting for something to happen, but he just kept walking till he got to his destination. I was waiting for the scene to end/transition. Since they never ended quickly, I was under the impression that they were just building suspense for something bad to happen. The loan shark would come rough Rocky up, Apollo Creed would send the media to humiliate him, or maybe the ghosts of a thousand British soldiers would crawl out of the Delaware River and ambush him in a hail of musket fire. Nope, the scene was a 30-second walk down the block...end scene. I don't know if I've ever seen anything like it.

I expected the loan shark, Rocky's shady employer, to find some reason to shake Rocky down for money he didn't have so Rocky would have a more desperate cause to beat Apollo. Turns out Rocky was going to get the money, win or lose. The loan shark actually turned out to be a pretty good dude, generously GIVING Rocky money for a date with Adrian and more money later for training strings attached. He even came to see Rocky's fight.

Rocky's training scenes didn't pump me up like I expected them to, and in the end, although Rocky lasted all 15 rounds with Apollo, Apollo still won by decision. The movie didn't make me hate Apollo like I usually have reason to hate antagonists, but I still felt the need to see Rocky floor him.

So...I think I LOVED it. I hadn't realized how conditioned I'd become to expecting a movie to take me from extreme highs to extreme lows. Extreme tension - resolution. Extreme oppression - revenge. Extreme suspense - relief.

I hadn't realized how modern movie scripts are designed to give us such severe mood swings. Stallone was just trying to tell a story about a simple guy, so he kept the story simple. Genius.

Eh, that's all, I guess. Thanks Sly, for a good reminder that life is a marathon, not a sprint.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post.

    I wonder how many sequels could have followed if he did win.