Raging Bull

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 7:30pm
USA 1980. Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent, Nicholas Colasanto


Hailed as a masterwork of American cinema, Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull is adapted from the memoirs of Italian-American world middleweight champion boxer Jake LaMotta, played here in an Academy Award-winning performance by Robert De Niro (who famously gained 60 pounds mid-shoot to play the boxer in his declining years). LaMotta’s violent temper and brutal nature serve him well in the ring, and lead to a shot at the middleweight title; elsewhere in his life, however, they cause trouble, colouring his relations with wife Vickie (Cathy Moriarty) and brother-manager Joey (Joe Pesci). Irrational jealousy over Vickie, uncontrollable rages, and an insatiable appetite send LaMotta into a downward spiral that eventually costs him his title, his wife, and his relationship with Joey. Scorsese’s critique of extreme codes of masculinity is devastating in this uncompromising tale of an angry, seemingly irredeemable man still searching for redemption. “Raging Bull is a masterclass in pain inflicted on oneself and one’s loved ones, as well as one’s opponents. The use of pop and opera and the black-and-white photography (by Michael Chapman) are exemplary, the actual boxing a compulsive dance of death.” (Ben Walters, Time Out). “A fusion of Hollywood genre with personal vision couched in images and sounds that are kinetic and visceral, and closer to poetry than pulp” (Amy Taubin, Village Voice). B&W and colour, 35mm. 129 mins.

Post-screening discussion with Michael van den Bos, a Vancouver-based film teacher, writer, historian and producer. Michael teaches Film Theory and Visual Storytelling at the Vancouver Film School; Film History at the Pacific Audio Visual Institute; and the History of Character Animation at Capilano University. He writes a bi-monthly film column entitled “Cinemascope” for Vancouver View magazine and film reviews and essays for his website/blog “Movie Mad” (

Moderated by Dr. Harry Karlinsky, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.