Last summer, I took a weekend trip to Philadelphia. I had only been there once before. It was an eighth grade class trip to Washington D.C. We stopped by the City of Brotherly Love to see the Liberty Bell. We may have seen more, but I cannot remember anything else.
Thus, I decided to educate myself on American History. I also planned on visiting the museums, including the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art. Famous how? The steps Rocky Balboa jogs upon lead to the museum entrance.
My Pilates instructor Michele is a huge Rocky fan. She requested a photo of me at the top of the steps, in triumphant Rocky pose. Plus, the Pilates bag she gave all her clients as Christmas gifts a few years ago must be prominently displayed. This tradition began with another client’s trip to Hawaii.
Confession time: I had not seen Rocky. Bad, movie buff, bad! Like every other red-blooded American during the Cold War, I watched Rocky IV. However, all I had ever seen of the original were bits and pieces when it played on TV.
So, off I ignorantly went. A statue of Rocky Balboa stands by the bottom of the illustrious steps. Of course, the Pilates bag and I posed with it for a photo. Then up the stairs. My friend Jen jogged up. Considering the heat, I chose the slow, but steady pace. I felt I still deserved to raise my fists triumphantly in the air. All this and I had never seen the movie. These photos are now displayed on the Pilates bag travel wall chez Michele. Somehow, I sensed it was time. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and could finally understand why so many look to it for inspiration.
I began to wonder about other classics I had not seen. Yet again, I did not want to be a delinquent cinephile. A work colleague encouraged me to view the historical drama A Man for All Seasons. Sir Thomas More, a devout Catholic, unsuccessfully navigates the royal court after Henry VIII separates from the Church and the Pope, creating the Church of England with himself as the head. Being a history buff, I got wrapped up in its intricacies. Politics have not changed these past centuries.
Michael Caine appeared on “Charlie Rose” promoting his second autobiography. They spoke a bit of Sean Connery and The Man Who Would Be King based on the Rudyard Kipling tale. Two former British soldiers travel to Eastern lands in search of treasure and power. Things do not quite work out as expected. Since the movie popped up repeatedly in conversations, I finally saw it. The dangers of believing oneself a deity makes for a compelling story. A lesson learned in ego.
I have to admit, though, The Elephant Man is the most touching one. It is about the life of Joseph Merrick who was severely disfigured from birth and had to eke out a living as a carnival attraction in the late 1800s. My heart broke when Merrick cried out “I’m a human being!” when cornered like an animal by an angry mob. Though hidden beneath make-up, the actor John Hurt utilized his voice beautifully. Quite an extraordinary, sad story…and all true.
As more classics I have not seen are brought to my attention, I will remedy the problem. I have to admit, however, I have no interest in some films, due to genre, actor, etc. I will not name them to avoid offending anyone. My only thought now is: What will happen on my next trip?