Do you know what differentiates the great directors from the good ones? Their ability to weave out their dreams and fantasies on the celluloid. The whims and fancies of audience and critics no longer matter.
I had the chance to watch the masterpiece of Scorsese recently. I always wanted to see the ‘Raging Bull’. It’s a movie that has been there in the all time top 100 classics.
The great directors are always known for sticking to a set of actor/crew. They build a group and put their faith in them. Essentially film-making is a community process. Scorsese has casted De Niro in many of his classics and De Niro walked away with Oscar for his performance in Raging Bull.
As the name indicates De plays a boxer in the movie. He dreams of attaining the world middle weight championship. He works with an animal like passion towards that and he is nicknamed ‘Bronx Bull’. He bashes down anything that gets into his way. In addition to his opponents in the ring he has to fight those outside it. During that time the boxing world was controlled by the powerful Italian Mafia. But he is not at all bothered to make a compromise with them. He develops his own set of ‘rights’ and he works in that way.
The story is based on a real life character- Jake La Motta. The events happen in US around the 50’s and 60’s. More than his life in the ring, his life outside and the characters that revolves around makes the crux of the film. His bullish nature spills outside the box. He gets into the bad book of mafia. Jake has sentenced himself to absistence during his title quest. As a result he starts doubting the fidelity of his wife. His relationship with his wife and brother suffers. Thus he breaks away with his brother (and reunites years later).
The film opens with an old Jake practicing a speech and we wonder ’why?’. Then his youth is unscrolled. There are poignant moments like Jake breaking down after failing a ‘fixed’ match, reuniting with his brother. The physical transformation of De Niro after the retirement is amazing. It highlights the commitment level of the actor.
The whole movie is shot in black and white (like ‘Sin City’). But the boxing scene and blood spraying around is shot in a different style and short angle to give it a gory look. There is a particular sequence where Jake bashes the nose of a good looking challenger. Then the bookie says, ’He ain’t pretty any more!’
Just can’t get enough of the film!