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Watch: 40-Minute Master Class With Sylvester Stallone From The 2008 Zurich Film Festival

by Drew Taylor
July 30, 2013 2:42 PM
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Sylvester Stallone

At the Zurich Film Festival back in 2008, they had muscle-bound multi-hyphenate Sylvester Stallone as special guest to talk about his career as an actor, writer and director. After a couple of seconds of cheesy photo-ops (with Stallone striking some Rocky-esque) poses, it becomes a thoughtful look at his career and about the filmmaking process in general, with the host, claiming that Stallone exists in a small fraternity of writer/director/actors who have had as long and varied a career (among them Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier).

Stallone begins by saying that writing is the hardest part of the process for him, and describes it as "the most singular of arts," while directing is "the most rewarding." He then goes on to describe, over the course of about forty surprisingly articulate minutes, about his experiences on various films, why he employs certain aesthetics or tics (like his love of montages, particularly in "Staying Alive"), and where things like "Paradise Alley" came from ("it was supposed to be a fantasy") and how "Rocky" was just supposed to be about "ordinary people." If you think that Stallone is just some handsome dope, prepare to begrudgingly admit that it simply isn't the case.

The entire thing is well worth a look (watch it below). It's enough to get you excited about the "Rocky" spin-off movie "Creed." [The Seventh Art]

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  • Rocky Spirit | July 31, 2013 4:08 PMReply

    For an inspirational story, please read the reviews of the award winning book Rocky Spirit, the Rocky Balboa connection to success available on

  • Cribbster | July 30, 2013 8:49 PMReply

    Alright, this post pisses me off a little because you'd have to be a little clueless to think Stallone is an idiot or to be surprised he isn't. The dude WROTE "Rocky," probably the greatest sports movie ever made. People love "Rocky," but I still think that underrates it. It's got the perfection and simplicity of a De Sica film like "Bicycle Thieves" or "Umberto D." In addition, it's got one of the greatest scenes in sports film history: The night before the fight, Rocky goes to the arena, walks back home, crawls into bed with Adrienne and resigns himself to the fact that he CANNOT WIN THE FIGHT. Think about that. Show me another sports movie that has the balls to pull that off. He wrote a sports movie beautifully integrated into the frustration of the '70s that expressed not a need to win but simply to survive the fight. A dumb guy doesn't pull that off. It's not possible.

  • PC | July 31, 2013 4:25 AM

    Maybe it's got to do with the fact that, in the popular consciousness, Stallone is regarded as something of a lunkhead. Wrongly, I know, but that genuinely is how a lot, even a majority of people see him. They listen to his speech and think he's probably a little slow, they look at his predominantly action-oriented career and assume he has no smarts or savvy because of those film choices. Hell, Rocky has a huge part to play in this image because the character is a none too bright jock with no prospects who made it more out of grit and heart than intellect. Since this character is the one most synonymous with Stallone, people often just take it that he's actually like that, completely undercutting the fact that he is actually an incredibly savvy artist who gave a spectacular performance in a genuinely superb film. Keep in mind that we are in a time when many haven't seen a lot of the classics of even very popular Hollywood fare, with people only being aware of Rocky as a pop culture gag.

    This article isn't artificially constructing an image of Stallone as an inarticulate fool just so that it can be undercut by the video. It's simply acknowledging that many do hold this opinion, and this is something to counter that notion.

    Admittedly, it would perhaps be nice if, rather than taking what is probably the easiest angle and showing the video as a counter-argument, it assumed that those reading such an article on such a site would themselves be more savvy as to the real artistry and smarts of Stallone and simply present it as an interview with a skilled veteran of various aspects of filmmaking, the same as would be done with his fellow filmmakers. If nothing else, that's what he has earned.

  • ZZ | July 31, 2013 2:33 AM

    Yeah, I don't get the preemptively dismissive tone giving way to surprise at Stallone's intellect, either. As far as I'm concerned, RAMBO (2008) gets him a lifetime pass. It's the most satisfying bit of action/brutality I've seen -- catharsis as entertainment as anti-catharsis.

    The world's collective, sustained judgment the last 37 years that ROCKY possesses infinite rewatchability speaks for itself.

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