Sunday, July 10, 2011

17. Raging Bull (1980)

I can't believe it's been a week since I last wrote a new entry. Sorry about that! In any case next up is my favorite Scorsese flick, Raging Bull. Scorsese is definitely one of the best directors out there. He almost never makes a bad film, and most are of a very high quality. He likes making movies about gangsters, or at the least he likes having gangsters involved. This is true for The Departed, Goodfellas, Casino, Mean Streets, Gangs of New York, and, well, Taxi Driver has pimps, that's close right? After Hours is a bit of a weird anomaly in his film resume (still an interesting movie though), and then there is the more recent Shutter Island, which was pretty dreadful for a Scorsese film. You aren't M. Night Shahoweveryouspellit, you are better than that Mr. Scorsese! But besides that hiccup, his list of films is nearly as good as any director out there. And I find that Raging Bull is at the top of his list. I did not feel that way at first though. For a long time I debated whether Good Fellas or Taxi Driver was my favorite. Both are remarkable films, but then one day I decided to see Raging Bull again.

Though Scorsese likes his characters stuck in the gangster world, it's always just a backdrop for the personal turmoil of his main character, and in Raging Bull that turmoil is more centered than in any of his other films (well, you could argue for Taxi Driver too). This is the classic rise and fall story. A character study of one man. It's drama, at it's purest form. Yes, it's like Citizen Kane, but with boxing. That was a joke, by the way, because really the actual boxing isn't what's important. This is not a sports movie. The boxing never lasts very long, and it comes second to the character himself. It is instead the basis from which we understand the character. That character of course being Robert De Niro, who somehow I haven't even mentioned yet. I believe this is also his first collaboration with Joe Pesci, and if not then this film definitely contains the roles that show off their collaboration the best. Sure, Pesci is insanely fun in both Goodfellas and Casino, but it's hard to top the serious drama that these two actors give here.

Now, I can't talk about this movie without mentioning De Niro quoting On the Waterfront. You'll know it when you see it, and it's one of the best moments in the film. It really caps all the drama, and this movie bleeds drama. It's also interesting since in The Godfather Part 2 De Niro plays a young Marlon Brando, and here he quotes a young Marlon Brando. Another cool tidbit is that Scorsese was apparently listening to a lot of The Clash's London Calling album while filming this movie. It's a great album to go along with a great movie.


  1. keep posting entries! they are really interesting! +1 follower

  2. Scorsese is a pretty good guy when it comes to movies :) Nice to see you back after a long week!

  3. Raging Bull is one of my all-time favorite movies.

  4. Loved this movie, your review hits it right on.