Friday, February 8, 2008

RAGING BULL (Martin Scorsese, 1980, USA)


 This is not a film about boxing; this is a film about the fractured life of Jake LaMotta, a one-time world champion boxer. If you understand the difference then you can truly appreciate the film. Scorsese’s beautiful black and white photography and subtle sound mix make us feel as if we’re watching a great vintage film from the 1940s…except for the graphic language and brutal violence.

This film is like a punch in the face because Jake is not an empathetic character and we are allowed access to his most violent and demented delusions. The characteristics that made LaMotta a great boxer are those that made him a sad and terrible human being; this is the living contradiction that Scorsese examines. The camerawork is fantastic as Scorsese artfully frames every punch and doesn’t resort to gimmicky quick-cut editing.

Robert DeNiro’s performance is now legendary as he is able to bring a modicum of humanity to a punch-drunk washed-up sex-offending criminal. LaMotta was never knocked down in the ring but his life was mostly spent face down on the mat.

Final Grade: (A)

1 comment:

smarthotoldlady said...

Taxi Driver is one of my favorite movies. I've seen it at least 100 times and taught it from the time it came out on VHS. Like Norman Bates, Travis is asexual, almost monastic. Think of the magnificent overhead shot of him lying alone on his cot, with the camera dipping down almost caressing him. He is, recall, "God's lonely man," and even when we see him on a crowded New York street, he seems floating in a slo-mo shot with more space around him than anyone else has in this crowded scene. Ironically, this scene rhymes with the one of Betsey floating in Travis's eyes the first time he spies her. Of course, Travis is going to meet Betsey when he is floating. The third time we see someone floating is when Betsey gets in the back of the cab after Travis has been hailed as a hero. She still is an untouched angel to Travis. The romance of this film is often overlooked, but it is there. (Do you think it will ever get on blu ray?)