The silhouette

There’s something archetypal about these shots – it turns the character, a real guy, into an iconic image. Or maybe like something out of a folk tale, or fairy tale. He is that real guy, in a real city … yet symbolically, within these images, he seems to take on more meaning, or weight. That’s what good art can do. The beginning of the movie is filled with images like these … once he begins to be connected to others halfway through the film, to Paulie, to Adrian, to Apollo Creed – these shots of isolation and lonely silhouettes disappear. One of the things I love about these images is that there isn’t a FUSS made about them in the movie. Nothing is lingered over. Nothing calls attention to itself. It is the story that is being told that is always in the forefront. There isn’t a self-congratulatory shot in the whole film. Yet make no mistake about it – the layers are there, they exist beneath the surface. They work on the audience subconsciously.

Another thing to notice: Philadelphia is strangely empty throughout this film. You don’t see any busy street scenes, with lots of people crossing back and forth. It is a strangely uninhabited city. Even the ice skating rink is empty. A lot of this had to do with the low budget nature of the movie. They couldn’t afford to pay a bazillion extras. But they also did NOT want the movie to have that sense of reality to it. It is more of a folk tale than an actual urban drama – and Stallone was aware of that, Avildsen was aware of that … and so instead of surrounding Rocky with bustling street scenes, with random crowds – they isolate him. For example, nobody else appears to live on the block where Rocky lives.

His silhouette – the hat, the black shoulders, the black legs, the boots – stands out. A black paper cut-out against the urban background.

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12 Responses to The silhouette

  1. Emily says:

    I saw this book at B & N this weekend in the film section – it was called Rocky Stories or something like that. I thumbed through it, and it’s basically a collection of pictures of people running up the steps or standing at the top with their arms in the triumphant “V” of that one building like Rocky during his training montage (what is that? City hall or something?). Have you seen it? Some of them were great. There’s this one shot of all these guys in suits and ties just jetting up the stairs…I can just imagine all these buttoned up, stock-broker types gathering together on their lunch breaks after deciding to do that.

  2. red says:

    Emily – I’ve seen that book too!! Yeah – that’s the art museum in Philadelphia!! I have a picture of me and my boyfriend “doing Rocky” at the top of those steps. We thought we were being original. hahahaha Can you imagine that we thought we were the only ones who said to each other, “Oooh, let’s pretend we’re Rocky!”??

  3. Emily says:

    Hahaha. There was this time several years ago where I used to go to Griffith Park a lot, just to kick back, sit on the grass and read and stuff. The view of L.A. is really great up there (have you been? If not, you MUST go the next time you come to L.A.). Anyway, at least once a month, there’d be some tourist that would cave into the temptation and scream “YOU’RE TEARING ME APART!” near the James Dean statue at the top of their lungs into the canyon. It would be so funny…peaceful, quiet, then, all of the sudden, someone just shouts that line.

  4. red says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHA Yeah, really – it’s like a ritual. You HAVE to go thru it!!!

    And no – I have NOT gone there, but I SO want to. I’ve heard a lot about it.

  5. Emily says:

    Yeah, and it’s just re-opened after a grand face-lift. I haven’t been yet, but I can’t wait to check it out.

  6. Emily says:

    Hey, Sheila – you know what just ran through my head? The thought of this museum, housing some of the finest works of art by the greatest masters in history…and people showing up in awe, thinking “oh my god…this is where…they filmed Rocky!!”

  7. red says:

    ha!!! Yeah, really. I think it’s the 2nd most popular tourist spot in Philly after the Liberty Bell. Not the MUSEUM, but the STEPS of the museum. People sometimes just drive right there from the airport – “take me to the steps”.

    hee hee

    Stallone said he used to run up those steps when he lived in Philly – but he also spent a lot of time INSIDE the museum, he loves art, is a painter himself, and an art collector. But he loved the image of this blue collar guy – not even really knowing what the structure is … but running up and down those steps – and the building it looks so … almost Greco-Roman – it’s just HUGE! Great image.

    And I think it’s in Rocky V – he actually goes INTO the museum for the first time, taking his son there on a little father-son type day. It’s a funny shot – Rocky staring up at the building, and saying to his son, “I never been in here before …” and behind them is the same city panorama from when he ran up the steps in the first movie.

  8. Mr. Bingley says:

    Hahaha, red you’re the best. I mean how many people can actually quote lines from Rocky V?

  9. just1beth says:

    Speaking of Planet Hollywood ha ha ha….
    I have a picture of Rocky “punching me in the face” at Planet Hollywood in Disney, when I went with my little sister a few years ago. There was this great big statue of him boxing and I just went up and put my face in front of his gloved fist like he had just punched me. Of course, Meredith was there with her camera, snapping a shot- ha ha ha!!

  10. Emily says:

    Beth – that’s *hilarious*!

  11. red says:

    Bingley – hahaha I know. That is the mark of a true die-hard Rocky fan.

  12. red says:

    beth – hahahahaha I have to see that picture!

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