Yesterday I began watching Raging Bull. I didn't finish it for two reasons: 1) I had to leave to go to a Poetry Slam night at the Nile and 2) I got the distinct feeling that I would enjoy the film a whole lot more (and understand it better, too) f I saw it on a better/bigger screen. So, I may set this one aside until September when I will be living in HB's new house...along with my sister-in-law and a big flat screen tv! Yes, I can't wait to be able to watch foreign films again! (the screen on my current tv is too small for subtitles)
But here are couple things I noticed already about Raging Bull. The first is that everyone always talks about how violent this film is. Now, I realize it revolutionized the way sports films, particularly boxing films, are made, and that I have a higher threshold for violence than many people. But, nonetheless, what strikes me more than the violence itself is the way it is handled.
Thelma Shoonmaker (editor) and the sound crew do a wonderful job of bringing you just past the point where you thought you couldn't handle the violence, and relieve you from it by replacing the fight sounds and background noise with classical music. It is in these moments when you are left free to disassociate yourself from the violence and context, much like the characters themselves have to do throughout their lives. The audience is also given a chance to see this groundbreaking directorial/cinematographic/editorial work, not just for sports films, but for any film with any kind of action sequencing. I also think this is one reason why 99% of the film is in black&white-- to deny the added distraction that color can bring to the audience. We are instead forced to concentrate on these characters and the fights they are in, in and out of the boxing ring.
So, that's my first take on the film, maybe I'll come back to it once I watch it all the way through!