“The only way to survive, is to do what you think is right, not what others try to convince you to do. If you allow him to do it, it ends up becoming an unhappy one. “With this maxim, Frank disleaves his younger brother Tony Manero.
Tony is a boy growing up on the outskirts of Brooklyn, attends a company of scapestrates and brawler, but he has a potential compared to his friends and it is not only the natural ability to seize the dance floor, but the desire to be a better person. Saturday Night Fever, represents an era, repaints the years ’70 through the music, but also the excesses, the conflicts of a multiethnicity that is poorly enduring and a tale of sexuality, deprived of any romance. In this context, Tony Manero embodies the desire for ransom and the refusal to settle. In the first chapter of the story, is still too immature, warns that the dance is the only thing that will charge him and takes him away from a family situation in which he does not feel valued and that heavily affecting his self-esteem, but is not able to visualize clear goals.
Tony is considered a leader by his pseudofriends and the girls do everything to attract their attention, but he is infatued with Stephanie Mangano (Karen Lynn Gorney) , with whom he will have to settle for a couple in the dance contest, without achieving anything more. Despite the myth created around the character of Tony Manero, especially thanks to John Travolta’s interpretation, we face a young man neither skills no talents, but endowed with two extremely significant qualities: goodwill and intellectual honesty. The first one, for example, is evident in the efforts made within the paint shop in which he works, however, the only idea of growing old in there, terris him. The second, after the dance competition in the Disco, in which it is the only one not to rejoice of the victory obtained. The final clash, in fact, takes place against a pair of Puerto Ricans of which Manero recognizes the superiority, giving him outraged the prize of the winner. No one understands his gesture, not even Stephanie, and Tony feels a fish out of water, which of the phony and gratuitous admiration, does not know what to do with it. The death of one of his friends, fell off the bridge in Brooklyn because of a stunt, is the drop that makes the vase overflow, and pushes the protagonist, now saturated, to move away from everything and everyone. The same evening of the tragedy, he reaches Stephanie in her Manhattan apartment, and the film ends with a handshake and a hug between the two, after Tony tells her to move into the Big Apple and start from scratch. What will our hero do?
We will know 6 years later, in 1983, when Sylvester Stallone decides to write, direct and produce the sequel Staying Alive, personally caring for the athletic training of John Travolta. Saturday Night Fever, is not a musical comedy like many others, in which a sense of evasion and optimism prevail, but it is much closer to the drama, treating the vicissitudes of the protagonists with sometimes dystopian realism. In the second chapter we find a more mature Tony, both physically and intellectually, much more aware of his qualities, determined to become a professional dancer. He has a story with his friend Jackie (Cynthia Rhoders) , while he sees with others and is impressed by the first ballerina Laura (Finola Hughes), capricious and arrivist, but, in the end, Tony is focused on his career and is detached, at times cynical and opportunistic in spite of himself.
In conclusion, he wins and redeems himself, he gets the first dancer on a Broadway show, conquering the choreographer, more than for the artistic talents, for the energy he transmits with dance and thanks to which he arrives to emerge compared to those who are technically more prepared, but remaining a cold performer. Both films, leave a sense of incompleteness, given the fact that they do not really put a point to the story, but have the merit of having narrated a socio-cultural insight, capturing the salient traits and, giving soul to a controversial character, with his a thousand faults and inner conflicts, but able to change the less happy aspects of his existence, through the force of determination. The myth of Tony, is the myth of the common man in the balance between reality and expectations, whose drama intensifies with the increase of the gap between the two poles. He is the myth of the one who is hungry, who desires perpetually something more, and in fact we will not know how long the euphoria and the sense of fulfillment for having crossed the finish line are going to last. The myth of Tony Manero, is the portrait of a topic, of an undeniable and unhealable condition of human nature, in any age or social, family and cultural context, more or less privileged. Is this to make it timeless?
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