The 1980 film, Raging Bull is one of the most personal stories told by Scorsese. The movie centers on the personal life and career of famed 1940-50s, professional boxer, Jake LaMotta, played by you guessed it…Robert De Niro! De Niro’s take on the middleweight champion shows the envious attitude, self-imploding, and explosive behavior that coins him the nickname, “Raging Bull” that ultimately destroys all relationships with his wife, family, and friends. Although Raging Bull is considered a ‘boxing movie’ the real opponent LaMotta faces, are his personal demons. This stays true through the exterior of the film.
During Labor Day Weekend in 1978, Martin Scorsese found himself waking up in a hospital due to a drug overdose after spending months depressed, facing an abundance of problems—one being his previous film, New York, New York (1977) being considered a failure. De Niro visited Scorsese in the hospital telling him it was time to “make this picture”—referring to Raging Bull (Christie and Thompson 76). Scorsese himself never found interest in the sport of boxing but was “fascinated by the self-destructive side of Jake La Motta’s character” (77). Scorsese finally accepted the script to Raging Bull after being asked for several years, because now he had faced a similar experience as Jake La Motta, and sought redemption. This personal story bleeds through the theme of redemption and self-inflicted issues seen in Raging Bull, making the film ever so sincere.
Yes, we can go on about the incredible acting performances that finally debuts Joe Pesci as a professional and earns Robert De Niro an Oscar for ‘Best Actor’. We can also talk about the eye-opening cinematography, dolly zooms, and long takes that change how Scorsese uses the camera for the rest of his career. Or even the keen cuts and cadence built within every fight scene done in the editing room that also lands the film another Oscar to Thelma Schoonmaker for ‘Best Film Editing’. However, the true artistic backbone of this project is the personal stories behind Raging Bull, which aligns elegantly with the crisp black and white 35mm picture designed to put any audience in awe.
Story/Plot – 17/20 Direction – 19/20 Acting - 19/20
Cinematography – 20/20 Score/Soundtrack – 17/20
The Founder of @HennionProductions,