Saturday 25 October 2008

Rocky - Gonna Fly Now

Released in 1976 , Rocky was directed by John G. Avildsen and starred Sylvester Stallone, who also wrote the screenplay. It told the rags-to-riches American Dream story of Philadephia strong arm debt collector and part time club fighter Rocky Balboa, who gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship when the scheduled contender breaks his hand.

Shot in only 28 days, Rocky made over US$117.2 million, picked up three Oscars and made Stallone a household name. It became a staple during the early 80's in the fledgeling video rental market and spawned five sequels: Rocky II, III, IV, V, and Rocky Balboa.

Rocky has spawned countless pastiches and imitators, from the gruelling training montages culminating in his triumphal ascent of the steps outside Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, to the emotional scenes of bruised, battered but unbowed Rocky Balboa, refusing to go down. This latter image epitomised the America's "never give up" attitude, much more than Rambo, Stallone's other succesful franchise.

Unlike Rambo, who was adapted from David Morrell's novel First Blood, Rocky is entirely Stallone's own invention and as such has more heart. It's a tribute to the power of the movie that a statue has been erected in Philly in his honour. One wonders if future generations will eventually believe that Rocky Balboa really was a boxer.

The music for the Rocky movies can really be epitomised by two tracks: Bill Conti's triumpant Rocky theme, actually called Gonna Fly Now; and Survivor's thumping Eye of the Tiger. It's a song that always seems to inspire men of a certain age to take the dancefloor at social gatherings and adopt a fighting pose and do that menacing marauding dinosaur dance.

Aside from Dan Hartman's eminently danceable Living in America from Rocky IV, the music for most of the Rocky movies is white AOR with a preponderance of fruity synthesisers and loud gated Linn drums. But isn't that always the case with movies of that era? Ultimately the Rocky movies are great feel good movies that still make you believe that you can win, even when the odds are against you. Adrienne!!!!!!

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