While every Martin Scorsese fan has her or his favourite movie, few would argue that Raging Bull
is one of his very best. It strikes a near-perfect balance between formal experiment (it's shot in black and white and features heavily stylised, slo-mo fight sequences) and emotional content, delivered through the compelling true-life story of heavyweight boxer Jake La Motta (on whose autobiography
it was based), and frequently scores high on critic and audience polls of the best films of the 20th century.
The traditional rise-and-fall biopic structure serves as a vehicle for a brutally tender distillation of most of the director's favourite themes (male violence, sexual jealousy, ambition and failure). Onscreen, it features two of his favourite leading actors, Robert De Niro (whose intense physical exertions and pasta diet for the role won him an Academy Award), and Joe Pesci, as La Motta and his brother Joey respectively. Trapped in a bubble of emotional and verbal inarticulacy, Jake and Joey's constant, repetitive bickering ("Did you fuck my wife?" La Motta asks over and over again in one scene, undaunted by however many times Joey denies it), is counterpointed by Jake's eloquence in the ring, manifestly the only place where he can express himself. As the title suggests, the guy's an animal, a real antihero in satin shorts.
The smouldering, statuesque Cathy Moriarty is on hand as Jake's long-suffering wife Vickie, as are a whole posse of Scorsese regulars. All are aided and abetted by several of Scorsese's most gifted and vital off-screen collaborators: screenwriter Paul Schrader (co-author of Taxi Driver), cinematographer Michael Chapman (Taxi Driver), and the indispensable Thelma Schoonmaker, editor of almost every Scorsese film since his feature, Who's That Knocking at My Door?. They don't come much better than this. --Leslie Felperin
DVD Special Features:
'The Film That Became A Legend' beautifully illustrated 16 page booklet offering a detailed insight into the making of the film
Interactive menu and chapter search
Original Theatrical Trailer
Set of 3 collectors' postcards
Plus a second disc containing exclusively commissioned material :-
'The Bronx Bull' 26 minutes (approx) In-depth Documentary exploring the making of this film
Jake's Jokes - a selection of jokes from La Motta's cabaret act
Plus two hidden special features
Widescreen - 1.85:1 version
Dolby Digital Surround
Subtitles: English/German/Spanish/Dutch/Finnish/Swedish/English for the hearing impaired*
* applicable to Disc 1 only, Disc 2 English only.