Posts Tagged ‘Robert DeNiro’

Raging Bull

By Jonas Cukierman

A bleak, mood masterpiece from director Martin Scorsese , Raging Bull is the authority on boxing films as well as cinematic biographies. The life and times of Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro) are as troubled and bumpy as that of any great figure. A furious man from the backstreets of the Bronx, La Motta rises from the ravages of poverty to become one of the most unbeatable contenders in boxing history. Set amid the backdrop of the 1940’s and 50’s, this film is the modern pinnacle of the always-arresting theme of Rise and Fall. A man who had everything he wanted, La Motta was forever haunted by personal demons that were expressed through forceful paranoia and the obsessive need for reassurance. Driven by anger rather than passion, he was able to defeat any opponent with sheer grit and thirst for blood. Among his Achilles heels were his young wife, Vikki, whom he met when she was only fifteen. Moving at a steady and always involving beat, La Motta is shown taking more beatings, winning more titles and self-destructing. As through a looking glass, there is always a feeling of not knowing what this fighting man will do next. And in the great tradition of Scorsese’s Italian American fables, this film forges a sober and exciting attitude all the way through. Intensifying the film’s dismal and violent beauty is the soundtrack, which mainly consists of the Intermezzo, from Cavalleria Rusticana, an Italian opera by Pietro Mascagn This choice of scores not only furthers the feel of darkness, but it immediately foreshadows La Motta’s downfall, while at the same time bestowing Italian artistry on the picture. Always worried that his wife is cheating on him, and thinking that his counterparts are working against him, Jake La Motta ventures beyond the point of no return. As the film’s flashback approach illustrates, Raging Bull is more than just a sports film. Rather, it is a look at how a person’s actions decide his fate. It is an in-depth journey into how people can shun those around them to the point of doing irreparable damage, and what carelessness and misuse of ones own limits can sow. Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese have undoubtedly constructed a picture of stark reality and emotional fire. De Niro stretches his abilities even farther than he does in Taxi Driver. This film achieves mythical direction and allegorical character figuration. With its black and white color as well as its unmistakably subdued tone, Raging Bull delivers great performances not only from De Niro, but from Joe Pesci as Joe La Motta (Jake’s’ brother) and Cathy Moriarty (Vikki La Motta). In between the ring matches, lies the story of a broken spirit with a destiny for suffering, for this story is Jake La Motta himself, and not a third person reciting it.

Jake LaMotta’s boxing matches:

Jake LaMotta vs. Sugar Ray Robinson

LaMotta vs. Sugar Ray Robinson