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Rocky Balboa - An Icon of a City

Rocky Balboa - An Icon of a City

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Published by Nicolas Sawicky

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Published by: Nicolas Sawicky on Dec 24, 2011
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12/29/2013

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NicolasSawickyMonumentPaperRockyBalboa:AnIconofaCityWhenyouthinkofthecityofPhiladelphia,afewthingscometomind:BenFranklin,theLibertyBell,Cheesesteaks,andRockyrunningupthenowlegendaryArtMuseumsteps.ThesearepeopleandthingsthattrulydefinePhiladelphiaasablue-collarcitywitharichhistory.ThemostcelebratedtouristattractioninallofPhillymightbethestepsofthePhiladelphiaArtMuseum.PeoplecomefromaroundtheworldandmimicthecharacterRockyBalboabycelebratingontopofthesteps.ThissymbolisforeverrememberedwiththebronzeRockystatuethatwasoriginallyamoviepropfor
RockyIII
andcurrentlysitsnexttothestepsoftheArtMuseum.Evenwithallthecontroversysurroundingthestatue,ittrulyholdsaspecialplaceintheimageryofPhiladelphia.Theacademyawardwinningfilm
Rocky 
isthestoryofanaspiringboxernamedRockyBalboa,whosedayjobisbeinganenforcerforalocalloanshark.Thejobisawayforhimtousehisphysicalstrengthtopaythebills,butRockyhatesthethingsthatcomewithhisprofession.
1
Hespendshisnightsatthegym,workingonhisboxingskillsdespitepeopletellinghimheistooold.Helivesinasmallhouseinapoorandbleakneighborhood.Itisinthisenvironmentthatafictionalheroisborn.
1
“Rocky,”RogerEbert,January1
st 
1976http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19760101/REVIEWS/601010307
 
ThingsbegintopickupforRockywhentheHeavyWeightChampionoftheWorldislookingforareplaceopponentforaNewYearsdayboxingmatch,Rocky’snickname,“TheItalianStallion”,catchesApolloCreed’seyeandhedecidestofighthim.ThisopportunitythengivesRockytheabilitytoquitworkingasanenforcerandfocussolelyontrainingforthefight.TheaudiencethenwitnessesRocky’straininghabits,whereheusestheenvironmentaroundhim.Sincehedoesnothaveaccesstoexpensiveequipment,heinsteadresortstothingslikechasingchickensandpunchingcowcarcasses.Allthisculminatesinthemostmemorablemontagesinfilmhistory.Startingatthecrackofdawn,RockybeginsrunningalongthedesolatePhiladelphiawaterfront.Youseehimworkingthepunchingbagsanddoingotherboxingexercises.Hegetsstrongerandstronger,beingabletorunfaster.ThemontagesendswithhimrunninguptheArtMuseumstepsandwhenhereachesthetop,hecelebratesbyraisinghisarms.WhatmakesthisscenesomemorableisthebackdropofPhiladelphiaasRockyjumpsupanddownwithhishandsraised.
2
Evenafterseeingsomeofthemostdismallocationsofthecity,itisallforgottenwiththatoneshotofthecityfromtheArtMuseum.ThemovieendswiththeNewYearsDayboxingmatch.ApolloCreedfirsttakesRockylightlyuntilRockyknockshimontheground.Theintensityofthefightbeginstoreachaclimaxasthetwomengopunchforpunchuntiltheend.Apolloisdeclaredthewinner,butallRockycaredaboutwasthatheprovedthathecouldgo15roundswiththeWorldHeavyWeightChampion.Asthepressrushesintothering,
2
“RockyI–Training(HighDefinition)”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iPFK5T_G3U&feature=fvst
 
Rockyignorestheinterviewersandheyellsoverandoveragain“Adrian”,theloveofhislife.Sheisfinallyabletogetthroughthecrowdandinthefinalsecondsofthefilm,sheexpressesherlovetohimandtheimagefreezes.
3
ItisfinalscenethatbringsthewholemovietogetherandtheaudiencecanleavethetheaterhappyknowingthatRockywon.Thefilm
Rocky
meansalottothecityofPhiladelphia.IthelpsoutsidersunderstandthecitymorethananyotherfilmhasdoneforotherAmericancities.Onecityofficialdeclaredthat
Rocky 
wasthe“BestthingtohappentoPhiladelphiasinceBenFranklin.”ElliotCurson,presidentofElliotCursonadvertisingcalls
Rocky
Philadelphia’ssignaturemoviebecause“PeopleunderstoodNewYork,Washington,buttheydidn’tunderstandPhiladelphia.”SharonPinkenson,theheadofthecityfilmoffice,stated“ItclearlygaveafilmreferencetotheworldaboutPhiladelphia…Thefilmgivesthecityavisualidentityandaculturalidentityandaspiritualidentity.”
4
Thestoryof
Rocky 
andthestoryofPhiladelphiaareoneinthesame.Bothunderdogs,theyhavenowrisentotheoccasionandmadesomethingofthemselves.FormerMayorEdwardG.Rendell,whoisnowtheGovernorofPennsylvania,said:“[
Rocky 
]becamethesymbolforthecity,and,toadegree,ametaphorforthecity…Westillare–morethan,say,SanFranciscoorNewYork–aworking-classcity,alittlebitofanunderdogofacity.”Thefactis,thestoryofRockydoesnotholdtrueinthesamewayitdidinthe1970’s.DuringthattimePhiladelphiawasinatransition
3
Rocky 
,DirectedbyJohnG.Avildsen,November21,1976
4
“PhillyStillIdentifieswithRocky”,MurrayDubin,PhiladelphiaInquirer,CraigZablo’sStallonZone,http://www.stallonezone.com/112301rockyphilly.html

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