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An analysis of mise en scene, cinematography, editing and sound in the opening sequence of "Raging Bull"

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An analysis of mise en scene, cinematography, editing and sound in the opening sequence of "Raging Bull" "Raging Bull" (1980) is an unrelenting, searing biopic and dramatic tragedy - based on the real life story of the unlovable, stubborn middleweight boxing champion Jake La Motta. His life passes through successive stages of punishment, compromise, and self-disintegration. The film is directed by Scorsese, famous for his Italian-American films, including "Mean Streets" (1974) and "GoodFellas" (1990). The tale of La Motta's downfall is a reversal of the sentimental, much-loved boxer/hero story in "Rocky" (1976). Its tone resembled previous boxing genre films, including "Golden Boy" (1939), "Body and Soul" (1947), "Champion" (1949), and "The Set-Up" (1949). The skilfully made film was both praised and vilified at the time of its release, but has since been rated as one of the best films of its decade. Out of its eight Academy Awards nominations, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Joe Pesci), Best Supporting Actress (Cathy Moriarty), Best Director (Martin Scorsese), Best Cinematography (Michael Chapman), and Best Sound, it only won two Oscars: Best Actor (De Niro1), and Best Film Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker). The film lost both the Best Director and Best Picture awards to Robert Redford's "Ordinary People" (1980). ...read more.


Superimposed title card: Jake La Motta 1941. The camera cuts to a medium shot of La Motta as he receives two blows to the head. According to the non-diegetic voice-over of the fight announcer, middleweight boxer La Motta is still undefeated. A fierce, up-and-coming boxing contender, La Motta fights in 1941 in Cleveland against black boxer Jimmy Reeves (Floyd Anderson). The blows to the boxers' faces are magnified by numbing stereophonic sound and shots from their point-of-view and then the camera shows a view from behind Jake looking over his shoulder. The impact of the punches, the glaring bright lights, and the pearls of sweat, which are flung off by every blow, are intensely real. Cut to a medium-low angle-shot of La Motta, known as the "Bronx Bull," with a raised fist just as a contrapuntal bell sounds for the end of the round. There is a close-up shot of Reeves turning back to his corner before the camera cuts to a long point of view shot that zooms in towards La Motta's corner. In a close-up of Jake he is being told by his trainers and handlers that he is "out pointed" and to win the bout: "You're gonna have to knock him out." ...read more.


One female spectator is trampled shown at floor level and we hear her diegetic scream. A medium-shot of the organist with the ring in the background shows that the rioting crowd violence is partially quelled when the organist begins playing: "The Star Spangled Banner"(The American National Anthem). There is a straight cut to a long-shot where a man is thrown from the ring into the crowd just before the sequence ends. Words: 1487 1 De Niro's performance is the most overwhelming of his career, immersing himself in the role by completely altering his physical appearance first as a lean boxer before bloating out with 50 pounds more weight for the films ending. 2 Although the fight scenes seem to occupy much of the film, their screen time totals only ten minutes. The fighting and other battles in his personal life make up the remainder of the film. 3 Robert De Niro had received an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in "The Godfather: Part II" (1974) and was nominated twice for Best Actor in a Leading Role in Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" (1976) and "The Deer Hunter" (1978). Since then he has had two more nominations in "Awakenings" (1990) and Scorsese's version of "Cape Fear" (1991). ...read more.

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