26 September 2011

Going the Distance


Rocky Balboa! The Italian Stallion! "Rocky" is a movie that tells of the underdog, a man trying to make it on the streets of Philadelphia. He does what he has to to make money. He isn't well educated, he doesn't have any family other than his pets, and he longs to love and be loved by the one woman who barely gives him the time of day. As much as this movie is about Rocky, it's about the woman Adrian too. Character progression/development is what makes "Rocky" what it is.

Rocky embodies an Italian Philadelphian. His use of the word "youse" is used by many Italian-Americans, but more specifically in this context, Italian-Americans who live in South Philadelphia. The movie stays true to the Philadelphia Italian-American as it shows the Italian Market, an essential part of Italian-American culture in Philadelphia. The movie stays true to historical embodiment of Philadelphia by showing Philadelphia landmarks, streets, homes, skyline, and most famously in the movie, the Art Museum and its many steps that Rocky runs up as he trains for his big fight with Apollo Creed for the heavy-weight title.

Rocky could be considered a low-life. He makes a living by bullying people for a street hustler to collect debts from people who have borrowed money. The camera always shows Rocky's time on the street as dark and mostly at night, where as the rest of his life has a more brighter lighting (possibly because it shows more of a legitimate lifestyle). Although Rocky works on the streets, all of his influence comes through his strength and nothing more. He is big and has street smarts, yet no one listens to him or respects him unless he is strong-arming them. At first I was unsure why the scene of Rocky walking a young girl (Marie) home from a city-block corner was relevant to the movie at all. As the viewer, I had no background on who this girl was or why she meant anything to Rock, until I realized that this scene shows just how much Rocky is not respected. Unless Rocky is in the streets collecting money, he has no influence at all no matter how much he would like to. This is portrayed in his conversation with Marie where Rocky tries to explain to her why she shouldn't hang out on the street corner with guys and she boldly says to Rocky at the end of the conversation "screw you!" This is also portrayed in Rocky's relationship with Mickey as the camera shoots the scene of Mickey explaining to Rocky why he gave away Rocky's locker to another boxer and Rocky towers over Mickey, yet despite Rocky's physique and powerful demeanor, Mickey does not respect Rocky and yells at him, and allows another boxer to bad-mouth him. All the while, as the viewer Rocky's gentleness and desire to care for people is always present. As far as character development goes, Rocky goes from a non-influential, disrespected man who does as little as possible to get by in his boxing career and a illegitimate street worker, to a man who's biggest desire is to "go the distance" and whether or not he takes home the heavy-weight title, just wants to make it in the ring with Apollo Creed until the 15th and final round no matter what happens, even is his nose gets broken (which has never happened before until his fight with Apollo).

For Adrian, she transforms from a self-conscience woman with nope hope of ever being loved and self-esteem that had been buried 6 feet under, to a woman that allows herself to be loved by Rocky, and begins seeing herself as beautiful as Rocky assures her that she is. In the early parts of the movie, her face is often hidden by her glasses and her winter hat, but as she gains more confidence and more regard for herself, the glasses come off and the hat is never seen again. Her face becomes more visible to both Rocky and the viewer. This movie is about going the distance, Going from being an underdog, like both Rocky and Adriane, even Mickey and Rocky's friend Pauly, to becoming something more, developing confidence and pushing yourself to the limit, even if your nose gets broken.

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