“Going the Distance”

Netflix’s has been streaming the first five Rocky movies. The sixth one, Rocky Balboa is worth the effort to find. Too bad Netflix does not have this streaming. And the upcoming Creed (about Apollo Creed’s son going into boxing) looks promising.

I have downloaded the first one to my Kindle. I have to say that after almost 40 years since it was first released it still holds up. I also think that Sylvester Stallone is underrated. I know his career has had its Ups and Downs. His mannerisms open him up to parody. Yet, he is still going.

I was reading some back story about the first Rocky movie. Stallone was living paycheck to paycheck when he wrote the screenplay. There were many groups interested in making the movie. However, there was one point. He could not be the star of it. He held firm it was his movie to star in. The producers were even willing to pay him more money not to be the star. He stood firm. And the rest was history.

Boxing movies are filled more times than not with a bunch of clichés. In fact, the final fight is anticlimactic. Here what makes it a good story is that everything in Rocky’s life outside of the ring is in conflict. Those conflicts are driving the drama of the story. Too many times, audiences over look this and base their opinion on the Final Fight.

The Rocky series was up and down as a whole. First two were good. The third one was a bit excessive. The fourth one was definitely a product of the 80’s. Although, Putin is trying to revive the Hollywood image of the Evil Russians. But he does not have the charisma to pull it off. The fifth one was practically pointless. And the sixth revived the series and was a good way to wrap up the series.

I have the Rocky Balboa: The Best of Rocky soundtrack. It features music from all of the movies. The rock songs on the album were mostly used for the cliché workout montages that were common in 80’s movies. A side effect of the MTV programming. The songs that work the best are the orchestral ones by composer Bill Conti. I like listening to those types of songs for movies. Because if close your eyes and listen you can imagine the story of the movie. (Star Wars by John Williams are another favorite). Listen to Gonna Fly Now (“Theme for Rocky”). You feel like you’re walking into a Coliseum. You can sense a fight coming.

The song I really like is Going the Distance. Here is a performance. You can imagine the fight.

The part people overlook about the first movie is that Rocky lost the fight. It was not about winning or losing for him. All he wanted to know was that he was capable of lasting all the rounds in the match.

This scene is tied to one in Rocky Balboa where he is challenged by a younger box to fight in an exhibition match. He needs go up against the usual bureaucrats to get approval.

This is the relatable scene. We live in a world of social media judgment. By people, who will never get up and roll up their sleeves to help. We have created a political class of people who say they know better than us how life should work. We get impeded by more paperwork and insurance requirement than is logical. Too many “What if’s” not challenged by enough “So What’s”. Whether we Win or Lose. Because that is not ultimately in our hands. It is about Opportunity to do so to our abilities.

And that scene is why the character of Rocky resonates with us. And why after all these years he still has a place in our culture.

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