Yo Adrian! or What I learned from Rocky

Last year, I attended my first writer’s conference. I totally felt like a fish out of water. Even though I’d just finished my creative writing degree, I hadn’t quite heard the terminology used in real conversation. It had always been in conjunction with my assignments. It’s a totally different language when you hear it used in a casual conversation.

At the workshop, Alexandra Sokoloff presented how to structure a story using popular movies as her examples. She used movies such as Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and a few others not related to  Lucas or Spielberg 🙂

I noticed my thought process when watching movies has changed since I attended Alexandra’s workshop. And I thank her for it. Sunday, I sat watching some of the Rocky movies on television. Now, these are just my observations and probably aren’t entirely what Stallone intended when he wrote them. But as I focus on writing, this is what I get out of them.

I do have to say, I’ve seen these movies several times over the years and my dad used to call me Adrian. Don’t ask, I couldn’t tell you. And I still answer to it. Anyway, here we go.

Rocky – Hard work and believing in yourself go a long way to achieving your goals. When you believe in yourself, others will too eventually and want to help you succeed. But it starts with you.

Rocky II – When people say your first major success was a fluke, you keep working hard in order to keep achieving success at the same level. If you do it just to prove others wrong, the success may ring hollow if you’re not doing it for yourself.

Rocky III – Easy success can breed complacency. When that first major failure hits, fear over never achieving the same level of success takes hold. Especially when the one person who believed in us from the beginning is gone. When fear takes over, doubt in our abilities creeps in. Sometimes a total change in the approach we take is required to get out head out of the cloud of doubt and get us focused again on success.

Rocky IV – The only one in the series I saw in the theatre. It was 1985 and yes, we cheered when he beat Drago. The Cold War was still very much real and the Berlin Wall had yet to fall. But once you get past the political commentary, the message is still clear. Pride goes before the fall. Apollo needlessly dies because he can’t let go of his pride. If you accept success is inevitable, you close your mind to other methods available to improve your craft. Again, Rocky steps out of his comfort zone to train in a way he never has before to give himself a better chance at success, and avenging Apollo’s death.

Hearts on Fire

Rocky V – Not my favorite movie. Rocky has lost everything. He has let others flatter him into making bad decisions. He believes what others tell him instead of believing in himself. He loses the relationship with his wife, his son and those who helped make him a success. Truthfully, I don’t remember the ending that well, but I know Rocky is betrayed in some fashion by Tommy Gunn in a way that finally wakes him up to reality.

Rocky Balboa – Glad I didn’t see this in the theatre. I wept. Not just cried, wept. Hubby threatened to turn it off 15 minutes in. I think the fact that Adrian was gone broke the connection to my father. Weird, I know, but that was my feeling as I watched. Surprisingly, in a way, Rocky ultimately succeeds by failing. He’s so stuck in the past that he’s become somewhat of a running joke in the neighborhood. His achievements are not taken as seriously by others, except Mason Dixon. Everyone compares him to Rocky and it aggravates him. Rocky accepts the fight invitation against the advice of everyone around him. But he accepts at the end that his success lies in the fact that he tried. He trained, got back in shape, but he knew his limitations and did the best he could. He made the effort. In the end, he lost, but he succeeded because he tried.

Another interesting bit about these films, and just about any other sports film is the training montage. (Montage!) No better way to show how he changes his approach to the new challenge without boring the audience with minute details of his training. It’s a staple we’ve come to expect because it works.

I’m curious to see what your thoughts are on these films. And I found this cool site. Total Rocky

Melanie

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8 thoughts on “Yo Adrian! or What I learned from Rocky

  1. Writing lets me enjoy movies in a new way, and even when I’m not enjoying the movie, I still enjoy analyzing it’s structure and themes.

    I like the way you summed up all the themes of the Rocky movies.

    I watched the Rocky series for the first time a few years ago. I’d just had my wisdom teeth pulled and there was a marathon on. Somehow, my throbbing head helped me relate a little more to him taking punches.

    I admire how Stallone wrote the script, then stubbornly insisted that he star in it.

    Oh – isn’t it funny how a movie can just take you off guard emotionally? The first time I saw Edward Scissorhands, I cried my eyes out – much to my embarrassment. It just struck a chord with me at that time in my life!

    Thanks for swinging by my blog recently. I’ll drop by here again to say hi. 🙂

    ~Tui

    1. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂 I’ve seen them so many times but haven’t really sat and thought about them from a plot/theme perspective before. One of those right time/place things. Hope you had a good week with your goals!

  2. I’ve watched more movies since I started writing than I did probably in my entire life before lol….93 since January the first!

    I LOVE analysing the plots to use in my own stories, and now I sit watching with a notebook and pen lol

    Xx

    1. 93!! Wow! I think I’ve watched 5 or 6, lol. Just haven’t been in movie watching mode this year. Hubby and I go through phases. Other writers told me this would happen, and it has. I break down the movies now and it drives the hubby a little crazy sometimes! 🙂

  3. I’ve only seen one or two of the movies, so can’t relate completely. I love your analogies though! So jealous you got to hear Alexandra Sokoloff, love her blog, and I watch differently now too, all because of her breakdowns!

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