For a few months, Prime Video made available to its subscribers the mythical saga of cinema, which lasted for several decades. It will leave the platform on July 8th and we invite you to rediscover it before then!
Warning, the article below contains potential spoilers for the Rocky Saga. If you do not want to know the content, please do not read the following…
The cinema screen lights up. We hear Rocky’s name being chanted in the distance, the character’s theme music begins… It’s Wednesday, January 24, 2007 Rocky Balboa’s session has just started and the shakes are already coming. It is not cold in the room, it is even a little hot.
It must be said that the announcement of this return of rock, sixteen years after the unloved fifth opus, is a cause for concern. Sylvester Stallone is over sixty years old, how can he be credible in the role of a boxer who can compete with an athlete in the prime of life?
And yet, the chill is there. Because Rocky isn’t just a character or a movie, it’s a saga, an important saga in the history of cinema, a saga that makes you cry as it shakes you, it’s Sylvester Stallone’s story and it’s a little bit of ours too. On this January 24, 2007, many viewers learned a lesson in life beyond the cinema. But where does our obscene attachment to rock come from?
Rocky, he’s human
Rocky Balboa is a penniless everyman whose life depends on his two turtles and his dog Butkus. In the early days, to support himself, he served as a butler for a small-time con artist and packed in dusty gyms. His only ray of sunshine is Adriana (played by Talia Shire in the original version of Adriana), the sister of her friend Paul (Burt Young), a young woman who works at the nearest pet store.
But one day, the current heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), finding himself without an opponent for a fight in Philadelphia, asks us to find him. “Cheese” Ready to try the adventure to try to become the new world champion. Coach Mickey (Burgess Meredith) contacts Rocky to get him to try his luck. The saga begins.
It wouldn’t have lasted 6 feature films (and a little more if you add the character’s appearance in the spin-off franchise, Creed) if it was just about the award-winning boxer’s journey and sustaining it from film to film. .
According to the famous maxim: “If I change and you change, then everyone can change”Rocky’s character will develop subtly, and his relationships with others will improve over time. Her love story with Adrian is one of the most impressive in cinema. Rocky isn’t just a boxer, he’s basically a shy little boy from Philadelphia, overly handsome, clumsy, and a little naive.
His humanity also comes from the personal trials he goes through. In the course of the feature films, he experiences many pains that make him more and more anxious each time, for different reasons. He loses his friend Apollo Creed, killed in the ring by the Soviet giant Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), and is then driven by a blind desire for revenge (R4*).
He is also violently affected by the death of his trainer Mickey and takes responsibility for his death (R3), then he is heartbroken by the loss of his lover Adriana (R6) and his brother Paul (C1). That’s why we find a man broken and tired of life in the two films of R6 and Creed.
That being said, we have to admit that Rocky remains a boxing saga, and what a boxing saga it is!
Rocky, he’s a good boxer (though)
Boxing movies have been around since the early days of cinema. One of the most famous of this era is the comedy Tramp and Fat in the Ring, which was released in 1914. But we’re in 1976 at the time of Rocky’s filming, and the last boxing movie hinted at is Fat City (1972), dir. by John Huston (himself a former boxer) and what Muhammad Ali himself liked.
Rocky director Jon Avildsen wants to be even more realistic and asks Stallone, the screenwriter, to describe all the movements of the final battle so that the choreography is perfect. Moreover, former boxer Jimmy Gambina is involved in the training of the two main actors.
However, let’s face it, despite all the good intentions, The Rocky Saga is in no way faithful to an actual boxing match. The gloves used in the first film are illegal, the arcade would not be open and the fight would be stopped, as for Rock’s repeated accusations of his opponents being more deserving of wrestling, they have nothing to do with the boxing ring. But then, why does it work?
Because Stallone realized that the realism of a boxing match is not cinematic. So it opts for very nervous editing, twenty minutes or so of fights (except for R5, sent very quickly), bloody open wounds, boxers reaching the end of their strength, and more or less observant referees.
This harsh and unrealistic side is also felt in Rocky’s personality, who rarely defends himself and follows him one after another, betting on his extraordinary resistance. He will be ready to die in the ring to satisfy his desire for revenge on the killer of Apollo Creed (R4). He won this hard fought battle and sent a message of naivety to the Soviet world.
But after this grueling battle, Rocky can no longer fight (R5): he has vision problems and his hands are shaking, which for once brought a dose of realism. This reaction, unfortunately, remains at the stage of a good idea from the poorly exploited beginning of the film.
For the rest, boxing in the Rockies is bullshit, but it’s impressive bullshit, where every punch feels like it weighs 32 tons. And also, thanks to this, the saga makes the audience feel strong emotions and finds a fair balance with the parts focused on the sentimental story of Rocky and Adriana.
Rocky, this is Sylvester Stallone
Later (R3), Rocky experiences the redemption of glory. He has everything you could want: rich, famous everywhere, involved in charity work, and yet he misses the point… Adrian is not happy and his son is spoiled rotten.
Moreover, he also begins to develop an ego, which does him no good. His encounter with “Mad Dog” Clubber Lang (Mr. T.), who gives him the beating of his life, quickly brings him back down to earth: nothing is certain. Here again, Stallone manages his newfound fame, sees the excesses it can bring, and exudes humility in his beloved persona.
Rock like Stallone will not stay on top. Almost prophetically, Stallone wrote the story of R5 in 1989, in which Balboa was destroyed and decided to become a trainer in order to survive, relying on his past glory. And actually, the failure of this fifth feature and a couple of bad movies in the 90s make it a decade of wilderness crossing.
The last two feature films in the saga are about disappointment, resignation as well. In R6, we find Rocky running a small restaurant in the seedy neighborhood of his childhood, where he spends his time telling stories of his glorious past.
Undoubtedly, the experience is here again for the actor, who had not acted in anything for almost a decade at the time of filming. These two films focus on far less positive ideas than Rock’s first four films, which were made between 1976 and 1986, defending the idea of the American Dream. An ideology that Rock (and Stallone?) seems to have come back from.
How the actor-director projected his own life through the character of Rocky is fascinating and makes Rocky a deeply human character and far less of a cartoon than he portrays to those who haven’t seen him. as photos or excerpts from them. Favorite video platform. If the franchise doesn’t always shine with its realizations, the emotions it conveys are real and rock a fascinating narrative arc until we really get into it.
Take advantage of their availability on Prime Video for another week to rediscover what is undoubtedly one of the most powerful sagas in cinema, best for the author of these lines, for the trajectory of the characters, for the decades that pass, it has an overall consistency and the fact that that it carried its main performer from 1976 to 2018. unheard of Perhaps and elements that can only inspire one thing: respect.
* To avoid repetition, the Saga films are referred to as follows: R1, R2, R3 Rocky 1, 2, 3, etc. And the Creed movies are C1 and C2.