Rocky Morphology
It ain’t over ’til it’s over. Latest personal project at Fathom, Rocky Morphology, analyzes the narrative structure of Rocky I-VI.

Yo, Adrian!

It wouldn’t be a Rocky movie without an epic montage, a good and bloody fight, oh and some dialogue, too. There are, in fact, only a few basic narrative elements that make up the formula for all six Rocky films. Using empirical data collection (i.e. watching the six movies over six days straight), Rocky Morphology analyzes the Rocky series in order to identify its key narrative elements.

Narrative Timeline of Rocky Morphology

It’s interesting to see the battle between dialogue, montage and fighting throughout each film. Dialogue beats out training and fighting in the first two Rocky films, but fighting and montage occupy the most time in Rocky III and Rocky IV. Rocky V favors dialogue over fighting — undisputedly slowing its pace next to the previous films. In the final round, Rocky sticks with dialogue over fighting but — “it ain’t over ‘till it’s over” — Rocky delivers one last montage and fight scene to close out the series and complete the Rocky Morphology.

But wait, it still ain’t over. This Christmas Sylvester Stallone will be starring in Grudge Match, and Rocky on Broadway opens February 2014.

This piece was inspired in part by Morphology of the Folktale by Vladimir Propp. Propp was a Soviet formalist scholar who analyzed the basic plot components of Russian folk tales to identify their simplest narrative elements. By reducing each Rocky film to its most basic components, it was possible to visualize the narrative elements that string the entire series together.