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Friday, October 10, 2008

Raging Bull (1980) - a great Robert De Niro movie

The movie stars Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Cathy Moriarty. The movie was based on a biographical novel written by Jake LaMotta (published in 1970), with the biography based on his life - primarily about his life from being a young teenager, reform, his life as a boxer (and his fights with the mafia about trying to get the main title), his jealousy over his wife Vickie; it is also about his attitude, and also about the strong relationship with his brother Jeoy. The story was adapted by Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin for the movie, that was eventually directed by Martin Scorsese and released in 1980.
The movie is a great black and white portrayal of the life of the boxer, Jake LaMotta. The movie was so popular with critics (after an initial mixed reception) due to its brutal portrayal of Jake's tormented life, going off into violent temper tantrum, suspecting his young wife Vicki, even with his own brother. His temper and attitude also moves his away from his own family. Robert De Niro is able to portray this incredibly, including showing the puzzlement he faces when he is not able to control his own temper tantrums, nor understand why they occur; the impact of these tantrums are very destructive for him.

Raging Bull starring Robert De Niro and released in 1980

The movie got such critical acclaim that it was nominated for 8 Oscars, and won 2 Academy Awards. The event was overshadowed by the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagen by John Hinckley Jnr, attempting to do a 'Taxi Driver' stunt of trying to impress Jodie Foster. Over a period of time, the movie got much more support from critics, being rated among the top movies of all time; definitely the best movie of 1980, and among Martin Scorcese's best movies. The Oscars for which the movie was nominated were Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Sound and Editing; the movie finally picked up the Oscar for Best Actor (DeNiro) and Best Editing (Schoonmaker).
The movie starts in flashback, where a much heftier Jake LaMotta (Robert DeNiro put on 50 kilos for this part of the role, after training to bring himself to a boxer's peak physical condition for the early part of the role) is practicing his comedian's act in 1964. And then the movie moves onto the meatier part of the role, to 1941 where Jake is into his boxing career, aided by his brother Joey who is a sparring partner as well as the organizer of his fights. The movies takes us through the fights he has, the fights that his brother has on his behalf, the wooing of his wife as a young adult upto the point where he becomes paranoid and accuses her of cheating on him. You really need to see the movie to feel the power of the movie.

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