Martin Scorsese's brutal black-and-white biography of self-destructive boxer Jake LaMotta was chosen as the best film of the 1980s in a major critics' poll at the end of the decade, and it's a knockout piece of filmmaking.... more » Robert De Niro plays LaMotta (famously putting on 50 pounds for the later scenes), a man tormented by demons he doesn't understand and prone to uncontrollably violent temper tantrums and fits of irrational jealousy. He marries a striking young blond (Cathy Moriarty), his sexual ideal, and then terrorizes her with never-ending accusations of infidelity. Jake is as frightening as he is pathetic, unable to control or comprehend the baser instincts that periodically, and without warning, turn him into the rampaging beast of the title. But as Roman Catholic Scorsese sees it, he works off his sins in the boxing ring, where his greatest athletic talent is his ability to withstand punishment. The fight scenes are astounding; they're like barbaric ritual dance numbers. Images smash into one another--a flashbulb, a spray of sweat, a fist, a geyser of blood--until you feel dazed from the pummeling. Nominated for a handful of Academy Awards (including best picture and director), Raging Bull won only two, for De Niro and for editor Thelma Schoonmacher. --Jim Emerson« less
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 02/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Academy has been wrong on many occasions. This would be one of them. As interesting a drama as "Ordinary People" was Robert Redford's film can't hold a candle to the complex drama that was passed over for both best director and best picture. "Raging Bull" features Scorsese's cinematic gifts at their peak. The kinetic camera of Michael Chapman and Scorsese's unusual but powerful compositions capture the boxing ring in a way never quite seen before. He also captures the human element in the same way. Jake LaMotta's gift is his ability to punish himself for his sins. He can be pummeled by others and withstand every single massive punch of his opponents. Yes he can knock them out but it's also his ability to outlast them that makes LaMotta so difficult to beat in the ring. The boxing ring changes from a place of sport to a place of war for one man's soul. Robert DeNiro's brilliant portrayal of LaMotta earned him a well deserved Oscar but without Scorsese's sharp as nails direction and the rich imagery of Michael Chapman's cinematography, "Raging Bull" would just have been another biopic about a famous boxer. The difference between the deluxe two disc edition of "Raging Bull" and the single disc version comes down to the featurettes and documentary on disc two and the commentary tracks on disc one. Both the single disc and two disc versions feature the same top notch transfer.
A beautiful, detailed transfer brings out the rich shadows, dark blacks and bright whites of Michael Chapman's cinematography. Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio for the first time this anamorphic transfer captures all the detail missing from the previous version released on DVD (which was reportedly cropped from the 1.33:1 TV version. Shot in black and white on high contrast film, the film retains it's grainy texture that added a sense of gritty reality to the original theatrical release. Presented in an enhanced Dolby Digital 5.1 and the original 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround soundtrack, the detailed soundtrack sounds terrific with virtually no compression issues and great presence. --- Extras: In Before the Fight the principle cast and crew discuss all the struggles that producers Chartoff and Winkler faced in making the movie. A project that DeNiro had first proposed to Scorsese when he was making Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. It's ironic that Scorsese who was never a big sports fan would make the ultimate boxing movie. Scorsese discusses how he was ultimately persuaded to make the movie by DeNiro (who had the idea of doing the physical transformation for LaMota as he ages from the very beginning). Luckily Chartoff and Winkler had produced Rocky. The duo used the success of their film as leverage to get Raging Bull.
"In the Ring" focuses on the actual production issues they faced. Watching pre-production footage Scorsese came to the conclusion that Irwin Winkler's suggestion to shoot the film in black and white was perfect for capturing the "vintage" look of the era. Editor Thelma Schoonmaker points out that amazingly Raging Bull was shot with only one camera. Schoonmaker also points out the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) differences between fights and how changing the design of the ring, the lighting and how the sequences reflected Jake's emotional state at the time. While the film was storyboarded, Scorsese primarily used them to help keep track of the way the film would ultimately look when put together.
"In Outside the Ring" Pesci points out that the film was far from improvised. Schrader provided the dramatic structure and the actors would improvise during the rehearsal sessions and would then be, for the most part, written in stone. We learn much more about the dramatic scenes in this section with Cathy Morarity discussing everything from how the hairdresser would use corn syrup to keep her hair perfect. Chapman shot many of the color home movies then realized he couldn't shoot them with bad framing like typical home movies. The teamsters working on the production shot these sequences.
"After the Fight" Pesci and Schoonmaker justify the extreme violence of the film by pointing out that Scorsese wasn't trying to glorify it but make it as ugly as possible particularly when it came to the fight sequences but also during the domestic fights between LaMotta and his family. Sound Effects editor points out some of the simple ideas that he used to highlight the differences between the fights sometimes during various punches such as the sound of a horse shuttering or an elephant braying during two intense fights. Warner would routinely burn the tapes he used for the sound effects at the end of each production forcing himself to create anew all over again with a new concept for each movie.
"The Bronx Bull" features Jake LaMotta discussing seeing the movie for the first time. We then hear from film critics as to the reaction to the film. Schoonmaker talks about how the trade papers warned distributors NOT to book the film. Ironically, the critics asked about the film are British critics who seem to have the best appreciation for the film. The Bronx Bull duplicates many comments in the 20 minute featurettes included but, nonetheless, it provides additional background on the film not available elsewhere.
"DeNiro vs. LaMotta" compares the reel world vs. the real world from still photos and archival footage. It shows the detail that Scorsese and DeNiro went into to recreate the look and feel of the real fights. We also get the original theatrical trailer and a promo trailer for the Rocky boxed set.
If you elect to go for the single disc edition of the film, all you'll get is a bare bones presentation. It does, however, sport the best transfer to date of the film presented in the correct aspect ratio (widescreen image heighth and width). It's a pity that MGM chose not to include the commentary tracks on this edition as they would have provided information every bit as useful as the extras on the deluxe edition. Ironically, the image quality might be better in theory because there's less bit space being turned over to the commentary tracks.
A superb movie that lost the Oscar to the fine film Ordinary People on a technicality (the repulsive violence alienated much of the Academy's core members), Raging Bull proves to be the deeper, richer film of the two. There's no doubt that both are classic films of a different sort but, truly, Raging Bull proves that if a classic is overlooked that time will repair the damage done. "
Bull on blu is a knock-out!
R. Becker | Ross, CA United States | 02/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a blu-ray for film lovers. The film grain has been reproduced beautifully. There is some minor ringing on a few high contrast edges, but other than that nit-pick, this looks just like watching it at the movie theater, but with a pristine print. Looks just as Scorcese intended in gorgeous black and white. One of the greatest films has been given a great restoration and now looks its very best on blu-ray!"
A Classic Film of Fighting, Loss, and Life. Superb!
Mark | East Coast | 02/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Raging Bull is an incredible film featuring some of the greatest directing, cinematography, and acting ever to grace the silver screen. Such an incredible movie also has to have a strong foundation in the form of a powerful script, moving music and incredible set work. In all, this is a movie that comes together on all fronts, and it's a credit to Scorcese for making that happen.
Jake LaMotta is a fighter who relies on his physical gifts over his mind. Over the years, the mindless beatings he allows himself to take take a toll on his mind and body. His decline is a metaphor for his personal life as well. He neglects his wife and family just as much as he neglects his health. He eventually loses everything, but retains a certain pride in his thickheadedness.
Yes it's true, LaMotta was not an angel. But this film is great because of its honesty. Deniro's portrayal of LaMotta is legendary. His talents were never better used in a motion picture.
Joe Pesci gives a strong performance in his supporting role as Jake's brother Joey. Cathy Moriarty gives an incredible performance as Jake's Wife. I was surprised to learn she was only 19 years old and cast mainly because of looks. She is very believable throughout the entire movie, as the wild young sexpot and the resolute divorcee.
The fight scenes bring out the best in the film's cinematography. Every scene is expertly framed in the ring with realism and sharp contrast. This is the closest a non-boxer will ever get to stepping inside the ring. The music is perfectly timed with the action, highlighting the beauty and brutality of this blood sport.
The rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson is expertly done. "You never hurt me," sums up Jake's pride after Robinson inevitably outclasses him.
From world champion to lounge bum, Jake LaMotta's rise and fall come to life in this film. Buy it, study it, watch it over and over. This is an incredible edition as well, with great clarity and nice features.
This is a Masterpiece!
Benjamin | Chicago, IL USA | 08/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Raging Bull is #24 in the 100 Best American movies ever, and it is among the 1000 Best Movies on DVD by Peter Travers. Later on was named the best movie of the decade (80's), which I think is true. I rate this movie 5 stars or 9.5/10. It was nominated for eight 1980 Oscars, but won only two: De Niro for Best Actor, and Thelma Schoonmaker for her editing (the Academy seems to have a problem with Scorsese). Schoonmaker appears on one of the audio commentaries of the movie, along with Martin Scorsese, producer, the real LaMotta and others. This DVD is exactly what we collectors like about special edition DVDs. The package is beautifully done (Yes! The package matters a lot), containing a small booklet with some short essays and pictures of the movie. Then, this special edition comes with a second DVD full of special features, such as 4 behind-the-scenes featurettes, a making of documentary, trailers, and some other very interesting stuff. This movie is a masterpiece. The acting is perfect, and I don't only mean De Niro, who got the Oscar for this role and is in my opinion one of the best actors ever, but Joe Pesci, who is as always sensational, and Cathy Moriarty in the role of Vickie. The shooting in black and white is a very wise decision, the photography by Michael Chapman, the music (Cavalleria Rusticana fits perfectly), the editing that got an Oscar is also a great job well done, the story, the screenplay, and even the fight scenes are just absolutely amazing (and I just hate violence ...). As The New York Times put it "Though it's a movie full of anger and nonstop physical violence, the effect or Raging Bull is lyrical". I recommend this movie to absolutely everybody. You will like it for sure. If you can, get this special edition (though while I am writing this review, it looks it is not available anymore at amazon). P.S. If you like my review vote YES. You can read all my other reviews if you wish to. I modestly write them to help people form an opinion about movies, music and books, but if nobody reads them (if you don't vote I do not know if you did) there is no point in writing them :-)"
Raging Bull is one of those superb films at its finest.
Jenny J.J.I. | That Lives in Carolinas | 07/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Raging Bull" has been called the greatest film of the 80s. After seeing this film last night I would say it is one of the most powerful films of all time. De Niro, was also at the top of his game here, as Jake LaMotta, the infamous boxer known for his abusive life style and somewhat paranoid delusions during his reign as world middleweight boxing champion, 1949 - 1951. Throughout the film, he beats his wife (played expertly and convincingly by the 19-year-old Cathy Moriarty), convinced that she is cheating on him, and that is more or less what the film is truly about. The boxing is just what he does for a living, and could be considered as a way to release some of his deeper, harbored anger.
The film is most often compared to "Rocky," more than any other, apparently because they both concern a certain level of boxing. As much as I absolutely adore "Rocky," "Raging Bull" is a deeper, more realistic film. But whereas "Raging Bull" is raw, "Rocky" is inspiring. The only connecting thread is the apparently central theme of boxing, which is used as a theme in "Rocky," and a backdrop in "Raging Bull." They're entirely different motion pictures -- one uplifting, the other somewhat depressing -- and the people who try to decide which is better need to seriously re-evaluate their reasons for doing so. They both succeed splendidly well at what they are trying to do, and that's all I have to say about their so-called connection.
The boxing scenes easily rank with the most brutal and violent moments ever put on film, shot in stark, unadorned black and white and utilizing unlikely sounds including shattering windows and animal cries to great effect. Thelma Schoonmaker's jarring, discordant editing in these scenes also deserves special mention. The scenes of domestic violence are not for the faint of heart, but there is really no other way to tell this story.
This is certainly one of the most intense films Scorsese has directed, and one of the most important of his career. Along with "Taxi Driver," it is an iconic motion picture that will stand the test of time for years and years to come. "