Like Most Of Scorcese's Films, Raging Bull Is Preoccupied With Violence. Does It Have Anything To Say About The Subject?

1424 words - 6 pages

It is clearly in modern society that people are able to both enjoy their profession and earn a substantial amount of money (if the job allows it), as in the case with Jake La Motta, the protagonist in Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull. Because Jake is a boxer, society is essentially giving him monetary incentive to act in a violent and malicious manner. Jake is rewarded for his vulgar disposition inside the ring, but these actions continue outside the ring, isolating himself from his relationships and turning himself into an animal. He does not distinguish between the acceptable form of releasing his anger (inside the ring) and the unacceptable ways he displays his hostility. It is because of this, he excludes those closest to him and consequently loses his career and in essence, his "life".In the opening scene of Raging Bull, Scorsese establishes the themes that dominate the rest of the film, the apparent physical and psychological violence inflicted by Jake and the confusion of pride with the will to win . Although it is a long take that lacks editing, the scene is clearly employing a formalistic quality because of the abstractness. It is interesting to notice that throughout the film, the fight scenes have formalist tendencies while the scenes on the domestic front lean toward realism. In this first scene, Jake is depicted shadow boxing in a smoky boxing ring, seemingly consumed by his mental and physical preparation.Physically, he is preparing for the boxing match he will be competing in; mentally Jake is preparing for the battles he will face in his relationships with those around him. Through the use of mise-en-scene we are introduced to the dominant themes. The scene opens with a long shot of Jake, who is illuminated by top lighting. By using top lighting, Scorsese seemingly isolates Jake from the rest of the scene, commenting on Jake's isolation from those around him. Further commenting on this idea is the idea that the people in the background outside the ring are barely visible, developing Jake's sense of autonomy and individualism. As we watch Jake gracefully dance around the ring through the ropes, we get the sense that he is caged in. Another aspect of the mise-en-scene, Jake's leopard print robe, gives Jake an animalistic quality, suggesting that he needs to be caged in the boxing ring. The fact that Jake is on the left side of the screen notes his weak mental position. Lastly, the non-digetic soundtrack is classical music, further commenting on the melancholy preparation for battle. Observing this mise-en-scene, we are already familiar with the dominant themes of the film without the need for a single word of dialogue.Scenes that include dialogue, such as the scene following Jake's first fight when he bullies his first wife around, also convey Jake's violence and interpersonal conflicts. Jake is depicted with his animalistic nature as a societal outcast, incapable of decent relationships with his neighbors and even those who love him....


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