Raging Bull (Wide Screen) [DVD] 
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Martin Scorsese's acclaimed biopic of Jake La Motta, the boxing world champion who rose rapidly to fame but swiftly fell from grace. On the road to success, La Motta (Robert De Niro) marries the beautiful young Vickie (Cathy Moriarty), but the pressures of success soon make him paranoid and he ends up alienating both his wife and his brother, Joey (Joe Pesci). Shot entirely in black and white, the film features brutal fight scenes and sees an Oscar-winning performance by De Niro, who famously tailored his physical appearance to suit the role, putting on 50 pounds to portray the portly, middle-aged La Motta.
The high-point in the long fruitful partnership of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, and widely reckoned one of the finest films of the 1980s, Raging Bull still looks like a contender. Based on the ghosted autobiography of 1940s boxing champion Jake La Motta, it's the most searing, intense and often painful to watch of Scorsese's explorations into the nature of masculinity and macho values. The rise of La Motta, the taut, cocky young fighting machine from the Bronx, is bookended by the scenes in which, as a paunchy, bloated has-been 20 years later, he's reduced to acting out self-pitying monologues in a tawdry Manhattan nightclub. The film is shot in crystalline black-and-white, masterfully framed and lit by Michael Chapman, partly as passionate movie-buff Scorsese's response to the way in which classic colour films were at this time being allowed to deteriorate into pinky-mauve travesties of their original rich tones.
Making their starring debuts, Joe Pesci as La Motta's long-suffering brother and manager, and Cathy Moriarty as his delicate-featured, abused child-wife, both grab their opportunities with both hands. But the film's dominated from the outset by De Niro's tour de force performance as the brutal, hair-triggered La Motta, viciously lashing out at the world in self-destructive fury. De Niro, who had first suggested the project to Scorsese back in 1973, threw himself into the role with near-demented dedication, submitting to a full year's punishing training programme to gain a boxer's physique and fighting skills--then taking two months off in Europe to stuff himself relentlessly till he had gained 60 lbs to play the slobbish, washed-up ex-champ. It's a performance of scary believability that makes you realise how casually, these days, the actor is coasting through his later career. Raging Bull was nominated for eight Oscars and picked up two, one for De Niro, and one for Thelma Schoonmaker's editing.
On the DVD: not much, just the original trailer, and a brief promo for some of MGM's other DVD releases. There's some useful production info in the printed booklet enclosed in the box, but couldn't they have got Marty to say a few words? The images look stunning in their original widescreen (1.85:1) ratio, but neither the Dolby Digital sound nor the print seems to have been remastered. Such a major re-release deserved a little more effort. --Philip KempSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This 30th Anniversary edition of Raging Bull uses the same transfer as the 2009 Bluray release, although that is no bad thing to be honest. The picture quality is excellent and one of the finest Bluay transfers from a 1980's film ive seen. Blacks are solid, whites are nice and crisp, the greys are varied which considering it was shot in black and white means a lot. Fine detail is very good and no DNR has been applied. There is a layer of grain over the picture, but not only is this a natural by product of the film used, it also adds to the gritty realism of the movie. Inside the boxing ring you can see the swirls of smoke passing across the ring lights, the beads of sweat on the boxers, and the blood appears thick and dark. The increased detail also allows you to really appreciate the shape Deniro got himself in to play this role. Which makes the transformation to washed up LaMotta all the more impressive.
The DTS-HD audio track is also very good, standing out in particular during the boxing scenes. You really get the feeling that you are in their with LaMotta.
Extras: Some quality extras here, most of them will have been seen before though.Read more ›
Not only is the film a compelling and visceral tale of a man’s battle with his inner demons (and questionable sanity) but it is (still, 35 years on) a mightily impressive technical achievement. Cinematographer Michael Chapman’s evocative black-and-white photography is stunning – whether it be the fast-cut, wide angle boxing ring shots, the steadicam, vérité-like sequences or the lingering, more intimate close-ups. Similarly, the film’s sound design (courtesy of Frank Warner) is like something straight out of Leone – with its echoing camera flashes and punches adding to the film’s sense of realism. Certainly, Scorsese does not hold back in terms of the brutality of his sporting focus – this is barbaric stuff (and, admittedly, rather exaggerated for effect) as LaMotta dishes out and (happily) takes vicious beatings ('He ain’t pretty no more’).Read more ›
Raging Bull is the best sports film ever made, the sheer emotion it puts you through, the detailed fights scenes, the first-class sound, this has never been repeated on big screen. Rocky may be fans favourite, but this is the best.
It is hard to believe that De Niro trained for the part for over a year, fought in three fights, then shot the film, take a few months out of filming to put on 50 pounds and then finished filming. Not only the best actor, but also this shows commitment to the part.
I loved Raging Bull from the first time I saw it, I am sure I am not the only one.
Filmed in black and white, "Raging Bull" consists of brutally realistic fight scenes of LaMotta's tough fights with the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson, Tony Janiro, and Marcel Cerdan that may be famous to boxing fans. The film centers around a fight LaMotta threw at the behest of his Mafia handlers to a fighter named Billy Fox. Throwing the fight plagued Lamotta for the rest of his life. Lamotta himself coached DeNiro in the fight scenes. LaMotta proved himself hard, tough, and vindictive in the ring.
LaMotta's brutality in the ring is mirrored in his life outside. The film develops Lamotta's relationship with his brother, Joey,(Joe Pesci) who served as his manager, and with his wife Vickie (Cathy Moriarty). Pesci and Moriarty were unknowns and both turned in stellar performances. Jealous, paranoid, and violent, Jake LaMotta was his own worst enemy as he abuses and groundlessly suspects both his wife and brother throughout the film. For most of the film, Lamotta is portrayed as a brutal, bullying,and unstable.
The film captures the raw world of professional boxing, with its pervasive criminal element. It is difficult not to be fascinated. Scenes of shabby streets and rooms alternate with scenes at posh night clubs and with the anger unleashed in the ring.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
First of all I think that Martin Scorsese is one of the best directors out there, and this movie clearly shows why. Read morePublished 6 days ago by robert
Only watched the first half hour. Struggled to get into the story.Published 21 days ago by clare101
This true story is well scripted and magnificently acted by De Niro at his very, very best. Joe Pesci is as good as ever, and I suspect against a weaker player, may even have... Read morePublished 1 month ago by road rocket
Really good film, some really good extra features in the 20th Anniversary Edition, A Must WatchPublished 3 months ago by Ricardo Matos