Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition
by Jef Burnham
Now available from MGM Home Entertainment.
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Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese’s 1980 masterpiece, Raging Bull, is an extraordinary character study in the tradition of Citizen Kane, reminding us that, at the end of the day, even the greatest of men are still just men. Star Robert De Niro would win the Academy Award for his performance as self-destructive boxer Jake La Motta, gaining an incredible amount of weight part-way through production to portray the out-of-shape aging La Motta rather than using prosthetics. It is, quite arguably, the greatest performance of the actor’s career, which places it easily among the greatest performances in American film history. With astonishing cinematography by Michael Chapman (Taxi Driver) and stellar performances by co-stars Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty, Raging Bull is an beautiful and challenging picture, deserving of every bit of praise it has received in the 30 years since the its release.
The 30th Anniversary Edition from MGM is a 2-disc release including both Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film. The Blu-ray transfer is stunning, breath-takingly highlighting Chapman’s cinematography and the black and white film stock with rich blacks and crisp outlines. The 5.1 DTS HD soundtrack too is wonderful, with the noises of the surrounding cityscapes occasionally overpowering the actors’ dialogue, adding to the film’s overall sense of realism.
Significant about this edition is the inclusion of over 50 minutes of brand new Special Features. Among them are a Tonight Show with Johnny Carson spot featuring an interview with Cathy Moriarty from March 27, 1981, which is incredibly uncomfortable to watch. Also included are 4 new featurettes. “Marty and Bobby” examines the collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro that spanned three decades, focusing primarily on the events that led to the production of Raging Bull and the complications of said production. “Raging Bull: Reflections on a Classic” features modern directors reminiscing about the film and its impact on them. “Remembering Jake” is a series of anecdotes and reminiscences about the real La Motta from professional boxers, boxing enthusiasts, and those who knew the Champ personally. Lastly is “Marty on Film,” which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like— twelve minutes of Scorsese talking about film in general, and at break-neck pace no less. Features making a return from previous releases are the four-part documentary, “Raging Bull: Fight Night;” the behind-the-scenes featurette “The Bronx Bull;” “De Niro vs. La Motta,” comparing the two in the ring shot-by-shot; newsreel footage of La Motta defending his title; and three commentary tracks.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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