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1980: Raging Bull


I would like to point out that 1980 is the absolute finest year of the decade, where great films are concerned. Many movies I consider to be my favourites were released in this stellar year. My main runner up is Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, which is, in my opinion, the best Star Wars movie to date. It has strong emotional depth to it and the gutpunch twist is near historical. I think very highly of this film and I almost gave it the top spot. Almost. Another sequel from 1980 I think is great is Superman II. It's not as good as it's marvellous predecessor, but still has a few good qualities. Used Cars and The Blues Brothers are also very good films, as are Airplane and Stir Crazy, some of the best comedies ever made. These are all brilliant films, in my opinion. The one film from 1980 that many think highly of is The Shining, but I consider it to be a lesser Kubrick.



There is a lot to like and a lot to hate about Raging Bull. It conveys the story of the most insanely jealous, violent and unlikeable character in any Scorsese film. Seriously, I felt genuine hate for La Motta. But somehow, this real-life character remains the center of one of the most absorbing dramas of the 1980's.

Scorsese's boxing scenes are frighteningly beautiful. No other way to put it. Well-shot and realistic to the core. Forget Casino's burial scene or any other violent sequences Scorsese has shot, these scenes are his most unflinching. These were my feelings on my first viewing of Raging Bull. Well shot boxing scenes, but an extremely cold emotional factor, not to mention some of the more misogynistic elements of the film. I didn't have much love for this film on my first viewing.



But after repeated viewings, I began to respect this film for what it was; a strong character study of a man desperate to show others that He is the best. And it's one of the best films ever, in terms of quality. Every scene is as good as the next and none of them are superfluous. The writing is letter perfect, with so many great scenes and dialogue. And the black and white cinematography is extraordinary, and is possibly the best shot black and white film to date.

Still, my favourite part of the film is the only one in colour, the home video sequence. The combination of music and colour has never been so beautiful, as the sequence peeks into La Motta's less monstrous, human side.

De Niro's performance is legendary for being a masterclass in Method acting. It's not my favourite De Niro performance, but it is tremendous, as De Niro becomes La Motta. His performance is so good, that you can't look away from the film at any moment he's on screen.



Raging Bull could very well be considered Scorsese's finest work; how a cold biopic could make such an absorbing drama shows how great a director Marty is. Raging Bull is certainly in my top 20 favourite films of all time and definitely tussles it out with another '80's masterpiece for the title of "best of the decade".