The Hero's Journey in Cinema Using Rocky As an Example
The 1976 film Rocky, is a great example of the hero’s journey. Any one of the six films would serve as a great example, but I will focus on the first of the series.
• Ordinary World – Sylvester Stalline plays Rocky Balboa, a sub-par boxer and loan collector in a bad area of Philadelphia. He boxes from week to week for hardly more than change. He works for a local loan shark as a collector due to his physique. He is a good-hearted and gentle person. Rocky is an average guy, living in a crummy apartment, doing his best to make it through the day to day.
• Call to adventure – When Heavyweight Boxing Champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) looks for a promotion for a big fight, he comes up with an idea to give a no name local fighter a shot at the title. He looks through a registry and hand-picks Rocky because of his nick name, “the Italian Stallion”.
• Refusal of the call – Rocky has no trainer, is out of shape, and virtually no chance of winning. He doesn’t even want the fight. He questions his own drive and manhood.
• Meeting with the mentor – Trainer Mickey (Burgess Meredith), begs to help train Rocky. He sees a champion in him, and makes him work hard to get in shape physically and mentally for the fight. The old man lives vicariously through the revived fighter Balboa.
• Crossing the first threshold – Rocky has to get over his fear before he can train. He has to find the fire to fight. To gain speed Rocky trains by trying to catch a chicken. He endured rugged training and his own mental struggle.
• Tests, allies, enemies – The Rocky series is know for the emotional and adrenaline filled training montages. Rocky tries to winover Pet Shop worker Adrian (Talia Shire), and she becomes his biggest inspiration. His friend Paulie is with him through it all, though usually not the most positive influence. Apollo Creed mocks Balboa and guarantees a win. Rocky trains in a meat locker punching hanging slabs of beef.
• Approach to the inmost cave – Rocky visits the ring the night before the fight. He notices that his trunks are the wrong color in the advertisement. The employee asks him, “Is it really going to matter”.
• Ordeal – The fight goes the distance, 15 rounds. Both fighters endure brutal punishment and are pushed to the limit.
• Rewards – The fight is a draw, Rocky receives national press.
• The road back – Rocky is put into the hospital for a long time to recover.
• Resurrection – The rematch takes place/
• Return with the elixir – Rocky wins the Heavyweight title.