(Warning: Raging Bull has a depressing theme as well as the violence getting out-of-hand in a couple of scenes, including one landmark scene. I suggest that sensitive people avoid this Scorsese film)
Based on the memoir of his shunned and controversial boxing career by Jake LaMotta with support from Peter Savage. The film adaption, Raging Bull is the more well-known today of his story which Scorsese reculantly agreed to direct.
A self-proclaimed loser, a boxer known as Jake LaMotta, wants a life in the ring, but can only survive on the boundary of the ring. His temper and frequent bust-ups as well as ludurious behaviour in the ring doesn't give him much respect by his own brother, who serves as his trainer. A relationship with a young moody girl follows and the zest of a middleweight championship belt lingers......
The film's deep violence and camoflashed colours was a symbol of Scorsese's pain and forgivance of the blurry visions of losing sight of his life when LaMotta thinks he can outdo his opponents in the ring. Raging Bull is also not really much of a boxing film, it is about a man trying to come to terms with himself and his career, plagued with demons, who thinks he's no good-which mirrored Scorsese's position at the time. This is why Raging Bull was not understood back in 1980. This is Scorsese's most personal work-even if he loathed the sport.
Scorsese managed to find his voice again, by exploring what exactly goes on inside the brain of a boxer, what is their position and how do they fight. Scorsese emphases on harsh snappy closeups of punching fists, desperate and scary and the wobbliness of the boxers eager to strive to win, subjeed to fight in the hazardous ring. The term, Raging Bull emphasises Jake LaMotta's behaviour of his opponents in the ring seen as punching bags, which he claims don't have the skill to match his is a metaphor. LaMotta is seen as a couch potato who uses violence as his weapon to keep people away from him who threaten and his lack of interest in the matches or even the desire of objection to hard work show in his ignorance in the ring.
DeNiro examines the power of the character, making him look fearless, when he is only being scared and how he always feels he is still fighting for nothing, alas helpless. DeNiro also observes the character of LaMotta, mood swings and anger that shoots across as a spearhead, motiviating, physical and for bitter revenge, just like in the ring. DeNiro even was a spitting image of Jake LaMotta in my opinion when in the full costume! Joe Pesci plays his first main role as Joey LaMotta, the inpatient brother-trainer who doesn't have much time for the concerns of his brother, he seeks the judgment of others to react to his behaviour. Pesci, who is best know for his vulgar language in later Scorsese flicks like Casino and Goodfellas, has during the most part, not much. Pesci gives him heartache in how to deal with his brother, also a sort of queashiness. Cathy Moriaty plays the naive, repellant and moody at best, Vicki who's sworn over by LaMotta's supposebly hardness like a shell. Vicky is played as tough, a strong willed, argumentive, also showing a sense of keeping from deep contact as a way to allow some freedom and flexibility, but enough desire to give LaMotta his raw power. Other characters like Salvy Batts by Frank Vincent and a small role for the director's father, Charles make their prominance and stand strong against the main players.
The Cinematography is picture perfect with the deep grey outlines forming as steam used especially in each of the fight sequences but most importantly the Sugar Ray Robinson fight with the slow revolving punch and continuous hits. The editing is careful, delicate and precise and incredibly moving with the Italian score.
Raging Bull is a clear cut masterpiece. A film about the man in and behind the ring whose tenture proved continuous agony. I should also point out that the dark and slow moving story may frustate some viewers looking for some hard action, patience is essential as well as an open mind.