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Thursday, 28 January 2010

Classics Corner: Raging Bull (1980)
A gritty portrayal of the life of a boxer’s struggle to be the best, and beat his demons inside and outside of the ring.

This film came from the great early days of Martin Scorsese, released in 1980 and staring Robert De Niro as the lead “Jake La Motta”, the relationship between actor and director already been established in Taxi Driver and Mean Streets and would later lead to future films, cementing a successful and long standing career together.

The story follows Jakes raise through the ranks of the boxing league, coached by older brother Joey (played by Joe Pesci) Jake has to start from the bottom and work his way to the top, but his no nonsense attitude to opponents and wanting to do things “his way” soon begin to land him in trouble with the puppet masters of the boxing world, filled with illegal betting on fights, mafia involvement and money issues, it proves no easy task for Jake to reach the top by simply been the best.

These tough decisions in his boxing career begin to spill over into Jakes personal life too. Outside of the ring we start seeing the true Jake La Motta, his paranoia of everyone around him, his possessiveness to his wife and former girlfriends, and soon we see that Jakes violence might not just be used in the ring alone.

In Jake La Motta Scorsese has produced a character fascinating to watch and at the same time many will find him an un-likable and down right unpleasant person, but, will none the less be unable to resist seeing just what he does next.

Upon the films release De Niro set a new standard
for the physical punishments actors are willing to endure for a role, using his body as a painter's canvas to show the emotions rolling beneath his character. A trait we see used often in the actors of today, to stunning results (Charlize Theron – Monster, Christian Bale – The Machinist). Whilst we see here a truly great actor flexing his acting muscles so too does the film show what a stunning vision director Scorsese had in mind for the cinema going audiences of the time. Promising something new and fresh that had never been seen on the big screen before. The Violence and fight scenes left many shocked by the content, with Scorsese using the technique of slowing down the action to capture the blood jetting from a smashed nose, to speeding up the action around the combatants as they circle the ring feeling each other out. Add to this jungle animals roaring on the soundtrack and the watcher almost feels trapped in the ring with the fighters

I highly recommend this film as a true classic that even after 30years still draws praise and criticism alike, but still has people talking about it, and I’ll leave you with words from the man himself….

Jake Le Motta (Played by Robert De Niro)
- If he fought Sugar Ray / He would say / That the thing ain't the ring, it's the play. / So give me a... stage / Where this bull here can rage / And though I could fight / I'd much rather recite /................................. that's entertainment

Review Submitted and Rated by: Mike Burton



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