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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. 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
- 8-page booklet featuring trivia, production notes and revealing look at the making of the movie
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This rise-and-fall picture was filmed, of course, by Martin Scorsese, and was definitely passed over for Oscars in its time (I won't diss Ordinary People because I loved that movie too). Maybe they should have been co-winners for Best Picture? Then again, Citizen Kane didn't win Best Picture either, and How Green Was My Valley was a much worse film than Ordinary People. This film, along with GoodFellas, represented Scorsese's apex--exciting, gut-wrenching, powerful cinema. He will probably get a few long overdue Oscars come the end of February, but it will be just like Paul Newman's win for The Color of Money (another Scorsese film)--an apology for not being nominated for more worthy work. Awards, though, don't matter--the work does. For an extraordinary film, look no further.
Aesthetically, I would agree. I'm a landscape photographer that specializes in bnw photography, and his utilization of that as a medium is unprecedented still to this day.
Great movie. One of the best of all time.
Robert DeNiro arguably provides his most committed, masterful work.
This blu-ray version of the movie is a definite improvement over the dvd but it is not the best film I've seen on blu-ray recently and so you may want to wait for a later release with a better picture quality restoration.