Though many are praising “Creed” for its excellent use of the “Rocky” franchise to elevate its story, what shouldn’t be lost in the nostalgia is the new movie’s great cinematography.
The director of photography for “Creed” is veteran cinematographer Maryse Alberti, who is no stranger to the squared circle. Her handheld photography in Darren Aronofsky’s Oscar-nominated “The Wrestler,” which follows down-and-out pro wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) at the end of his career, was a memorable highlight when the film came out in 2008.
But with “Creed,” she gives the audience a more slick perspective of what goes on in the ring.
One standout is Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), then going by Adonis Johnson, in his first fight that has Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) in his corner. It lasts two rounds and is done in one continuous take.
“Creed” director Ryan Coogler broke down most of the scene for a New York Times video:
In the scene, Adonis faces Leo Sporino, played by real Philadelphia boxer Gabe Rosado.
“This scene represents the boxer/coach relationship, the parental relationship. You can work with someone very long training them but when the bell rings they are all alone so we wanted to shoot this in one unbroken take to represent that.”
“It took a lot of memorization and choreography and body control. And with this scene being shot in one unbroken take it was similar to a monologue in the lines an actor will have to learn. Michael had to learn different punches and different steps to make sure he was in the right place at the right time.”
“The big thing for us was the sound design. We utilised the space of the surround sound. When you’re close to the blue corner you hear Rokcy’s voice and when you’re in the red you hear Sporino’s manager. We wanted to play with that sense of being alone and abandoned when you’re in the ring but a hint of that support.”
“And what’s great about boxing is that at the end of the round you’re reunited with your support group. Rocky puts the fight in perspective and the guy working on Michael’s eye is a real cut guy.”
The scene continues in a single take into the next round, when the advice Rocky gave Adonis between rounds pays off.
Watch the complete breakdown of the scene below: