For the last century, the movie industry has churned out an infinite quantity of films. Some of them have carved their niche in history, while others have simply left an indelible mark in our hearts and memories. In this perspective, I think it would be fair to say that the story of the Philadelphia small-timer has captured our hearts and earned its perennial place in them.
'Rocky' is one of those films that will never cease to appeal to all generations, for the message that it carries has passed the test of time with flying colours. When it first came out in 1976, critics were up in arms against it, labelling it as 'yet another glorified' boxing-orientated film. Unbeknownst to them - and to a certain extent even to Sylvester Stallone - this movie would become a benchmark in pop culture. Whatever made this movie stand out and best its poor expectations then?
Beyond the story of a down-and-out loan shark who moonlights as an amateur boxer, lies a much deeper message: the story of a man who is offered a chance to prove his worth when luck comes knocking at his door disguised as the mock challenge issued by the World Heavyweight champion to whoever wants a shot at his title. While Rocky Balboa takes on this seemingly impossible task, he indirectly becomes a symbol of perseverance, hope but also the embodiment of everything we would like to be, inviting us to "share" his story. It is in this spirit that entire generations have felt that adrenaline rush take over them as they watch Rocky undergo his torturous training regime made of countless runs through the streets of the City of Brotherly Love culminating at the top of the city hall staircase, and the carcass-beating in the slaughterhouse where his ratty brother-in-law earns his daily crumbs. In addition to his sedulous training whose purpose is to accomplish his wondrous task in as much as to win over the viewers' hearts, there is the development of an uncertain relationship between Rocky and Adrian, which successfully ensures him his audience's unconditional support.
Finally, we have the fight against Apollo Creed, a seamless cinematographic piece of work. As we see the perseverant underdog make his way to the ring accompanied by Mickey, his trainer but also the mentor who has stuck by him through thick and thin, we are all in Rocky's corner, hoping that he will reap the benefits of his painstaking efforts. As the bout goes on and the two boxers exchange blows back and forth, the initially sceptical spectators gradually make up their minds about the unlikely contestant and little by little the boos are replaced by mixed cheers for both opponents. When the match is finally over ( I will not disclose the referee's decision, for there might still be someone who is yet to watch it), the spectators' jubilance, awestruck by the momentous, life-altering event they have witnessed, and Rocky's crying out his soon-to-be-wife's name amidst the capacity crowd are both the testimony to the fulfilment of an insurmountable task, the accomplishment of the twelve labours of Hercules, and, ultimately, the metaphor for the old saying, 'Will is Power'.
Usually, I would end my reviews with a recommendation to fellow customers, but, in this particular occasion, it is imperative that everyone get this movie! However, as my recommendation for customers undecided between the Blu-ray version and the DVD one, I would like to say that I have recently watched this movie on the newer high-definition standard, and, unlike more recent movies, the transition was not the best one. Therefore, given its current price tag, getting the DVD copy may well be a bargain.