I had a curious thought watching this boxing drama/fantasy- the way in which it respected its forebears, particularly the Rocky franchise from which this film originates, brought to mind the way BR2049 clearly demonstrated its own respect for the original Blade Runner and its creators. To my surprise, Creed was clearly no cash-grab, and it was wonderful to see Sylvester Stallone return to his perhaps most famous character and see it treated so respectfully. Sure, these things are only movies and the importance and artistic value of the Rocky franchise is purely subjective really, but it’s nice to see someone making a film like this and it not feeling like a cynical enterprise.
In a curious way, there is the stuff of modern myth about Creed and how it furthers the story of Rocky. Bringing an ageing Rocky back to the screen to reflect on “Everything I got has moved on,” as he recalls his dead wife and freinds, and the old distant glories of his boxing career, Stallone reminds us he can be a great actor with the right material. “And I’m here,” he states, cooly, facing his own mortality and illness. Suddenly, in just the same way that BR2049 informed and improved its original film, Creed does the same for Rocky. Watching the original Rocky films, with the fresh knowledge of this film now existing decades later, and its own story, must surely add something.
It turns out Creed isn’t just a movie. Its something else, and it’s something to do with this myth-making and the parts of movies that linger within us after they have ended. Films aren’t just films, not always. They are time passing and life moving on and changing. I was never a huge fan of the Rocky films (they seemed to descend into self-parody and one of them – the 2006 Rocky Balboa– passed me by entirely) but I can imagine that for fans who first watched Rocky back in 1976 and grew old alongside Stallone over the decades since and several further Rocky films, something like Creed can be quite moving. Cathartic even. Who doesn’t get a tingle from hearing Bill Conti’s Rocky theme when it returns? I believe Creed is the seventh film of the Rocky franchise and the start of a saga of its own (Creed II being released this month, and the impetus for me to finally catch up with this film (yeah, I said I’m not a big Rocky fan)) and it’s clear that here business becomes art and perhaps, yes, more even than that- modern American myth-making.
So yes, I really was quite taken aback by Creed and had I watched it back in 2015, I’m sure I would have done so hoping that BR2049 could follow suit with its respect for the past (and thank goodness it did). Sequels, remakes and reboots don’t have to be a bad thing after all. And I really now need to rewatch Rocky sometime. Here’s hoping the Beeb schedule it over Christmas…