Wednesday, August 18, 2010

#12. Raging Bull (1980)

DVD Synopsis: Nomintaed for eight Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director, and winner of two including Best Actor for Robert DeNiro, this “tough, compelling, powerfully made” film (Halliwell’s Film Guide) is a “brilliantly photographed film of extraordinary power and rare distinction” (The Wall Street Journal). DeNiro gives a tour-de-force performance as Jake LaMotta, a boxer whose psychological and sexual complexities erupt into violence both in and out of the ring.

In August of 2003, Sports Illustrated published a list of the best sports movies ever made, and this film, quite deservedly, was right at the top of it. Yet it is unlike any other sports film. 

Shot in black and white, Raging Bull captures the power of Jake La Motta the boxer, the raw strength and determination that drove him to succeed in a sport known for its brutality, yet his strengths as a fighter could not mask his failings as a human being. Jake La Motta was an angry man, and in the ring, La Motta was able to channel this anger. His problem was he couldn’t shut it off when the bell sounded; that anger stayed with him everywhere he went. In Raging Bull, we witness time and again the self-destructive nature of the man, and watch as, one by one, those closest to him slip away. 

The Sports Illustrated list contained a number of great films, including such uplifting stories as Rocky, Chariots of Fire, and Phar Lap, movies that display the higher qualities of competitive sports, the ‘never say die’ mentality and dogged determination that define a true sports hero. Raging Bull stands alone among them, a serrated edge in a community of clean-cut legends. Where most sports films will indeed lift your spirits, Raging Bull drags you down to hell with it.


1 comment:

Jill Durocher said...

Well-done film about an unlikable person. Jake LaMotta is an unsympathetic, vicious, miserable human being brought to life in a brilliant performance by Robert DeNiro. Scorsese portrays the violence and brutality of the sport of boxing and Jake LaMotta's personality excellently. A film that is difficult to watch, but definitely one everyone should see.