Raging Bull (1980). Director: Martin Scorsese. Interiors is a monthly journal where we analyze and diagram the space of certain films.
INTERIORS + Mehruss Jon Ahi & Armen Karaoghlanian Raging Bull 04/2012 "The various shapes and sizes of the boxing rings in Raging Bull emphasize either Jake LaMotta's domination or deterioration." Interiors: Issue 4 (04/2012) Film: Raging Bull (1980) Director: Martin Scorsese Raging Bull (1980) was Martin Scorsese's swan song. The lmmaker assumed this would be his nal motion picture and thus put his heart and soul into the lm. Martin Scorsese has stated, "I put everything I knew and felt into that lm, and I thought it would be the end of my career." The lmmaker calls this a "kamikaze" way of making lms, in which he would pour everything he knew about cinema into this lm and then move on and nd another way of life. The lm demonstrates his artistic skill, but it's also a showcase for visual design in cinema. The lm focuses on Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro), a boxing champion whose professional life spills into his personal life. Martin Scorsese uses elements of visual design as a method of commenting on Jake's rise and fall. The various shapes and sizes of the boxing rings in Raging Bull emphasize either Jake LaMotta's domination or deterioration. Jake LaMotta is placed in small boxing rings when he is dominating, which accentuates his physical size and strength. In the course of the lm, as his personal and professional life declines, he is placed in wider and larger boxing rings, creating the impression that he his physical strength is deteriorating. The size of the boxing rings also in uence camera movements. The wider boxing ring allows for maximum camera movement, such as wide shots and circling around the ghters, whereas a smaller boxing ring is used for close-ups of the ghters, allowing for an emphasis in the details of their punches. Jake LaMotta's main rival inside the ring is Sugar Ray Robinson, and in analyzing their rst and nal encounters, we are provided with an understanding of how space is used. Martin Scorsese brings his camera into the ring with this lm and stages each ght differently; the rst ght consists mainly of objective shots, whereas their nal ght consists of subjective shots, showing us Jake's personal reaction within the boxing ring. The boxing ring in their rst meeting (Detroit, 1943) is surprisingly unproportional. The wide ring allows for an objective lming style of the ght between both boxers. Jake LaMotta's rst meeting with Sugar Ray Robinson is introduced immediately after Jake meets Vickie. In his father's home, Jake and Vickie begin kissing, as their date transitions into the ght itself. This provides us with an immediate contrast between love and ghting. In both instances � lovemaking and ghting � Jake is physical. In their rst meeting together, we discover that Sugar Ray is undefeated. Jake begins dominating Sugar Ray, and soon knocks him over the ropes, where Sugar Ray lands on his back. The rst diagram emphasizes this particular moment in the ght. This is the rst time in Sugar Ray's career that he has been knocked down. Martin Scorsese's use of space shows us how Jake's anger and rage spills outside the ring. Sugar Ray is literally knocked outside of the ring as he hangs on the side of the boxing ring. In this instance, as Sugar Ray is knocked down, Martin Scorsese uses fast motion. In capturing his fall, he then cuts onto Jake, where he incorporates slow motion. The contrast allows Jake to appear superior over his opponent. Jake's win over Sugar Ray also represents his masculinity, a characteristic that is exempli ed in his love scene with Vickie. The juxtaposition of ghting and lovemaking also suggests Jake's inability to differentiate between the two. Jake's personal and professional life begin merging during this time in the lm. The lm uses boxing scenes as an emblem of the violence that encompasses Jake's life. Jake is incapable of dealing with people around him without resorting to violence. Vickie and Sugar Ray both play essential roles in Jake's life inside and outside the ring. Vickie ultimately becomes his life partner (personal life, outside the ring) while Sugar Ray becomes his frequent rival (professional life, inside the ring). Boxing Ring Plan_1 (00:32:05) Boxing Ring Plan_2 (01:39:13) The use of a wider boxing ring during their rst meeting allows for the camera to participate during their ght. It's interesting to note, however, that as soon as the ght ends and the judges declare their winner, the boxing ring is back to its normal size. The ghters and coaches are no longer in the unproportional ring as exempli ed in our rst diagram. The ring shown is a standard size boxing ring. The nal encounter between Jake LaMotta and Sugar Ray Robinson (Chicago, 1951) comes after Jake's ght with his family members. Jake's viciousness infests his personal life as he beats his wife, Vickie, and his brother, Joey. This provides us with a stark contrast between Jake's rst encounter with Sugar Ray, which came during a time of love in his personal life. In his nal encounter with Sugar Ray, Jake's personal life is on a decline, and the ght itself focuses on his deterioration. This ght begins with an exhausted Jake LaMotta, unlike his rst encounter with Sugar Ray, which begins on a shot of their feet, skipping gracefully. Jake sits in his corner, beaten. This image of Jake LaMotta becomes a religious illustration as well. Jake's chest and back are sponged off with bloody water. This represents Jake's cruci xion. The visual design of the ght itself also demonstrates his deterioration inside the ring. In their nal meeting, we are provided with an intensi ed ghting atmosphere. In comparison to his other ghts, this becomes the most intense battle of them all. The jungle-like atmosphere within the ring is exempli ed with the distortion in the soundtrack, which includes a combination of animal cries and shrieks and airplanes motors, all of which are undistinguishable because of their mixing. The noise of the audience is also muffled resembling Jake's subjective state of consciousness. The size of the boxing ring is much smaller than their rst ght together. This is primarily because of the lack of wide shots. The close-ups of the ghters in this scene bring us closer to the action. The extensive use of slow motion and dense smoke and fog contributes to the feeling of alienation. The audience is never visible during close-ups of the ghters. The photographer's cameras are also much louder and intensi ed. The breaking of the ashbulbs resembles hisses that scream at the ghters. This presents us with a distortion of reality, as our focus is shifted onto Jake's subjective reaction to the world. Jake's diminishing stature is also emphasized through the space of the ring and the subjective camerawork. In the nal series of brutal punches, which were edited in the style of the famous shower sequence from Psycho (1960), we are provided with a point of view shot of Sugar Ray. The use of slow motion shows us Jake's weakening state of mind. The track-forward and zooming-out of Sugar Ray makes him appear larger and more monstrous. This also makes the standard sized boxing ring appear as if it's stretching, emphasizing the space within the ring itself. The use of space in this instance is subjective; Sugar Ray appears even more threatening. The boxing ring, in this sense, becomes overwhelming in its size. This also expresses Jake's overwhelming feelings of insecurity, jealousy and inferiority that plague him throughout the rest of the lm. Martin Scorsese closes the scene with a panning camera that captures both ghters and their coaches, ending with an image of Jake's blood dripping from the ropes. The bloody ropes become a harsh reminder of Jake's brutal defeat. These decisions also portray Jake as weak, both physically and emotionally, and comments on space, not just within the ring itself, but outside the ring as well. In cutting away from the action onto Joey and his wife in their home, who are watching the ght on television, we are provided with a sense of distance. Jake's supportive brother, who was once beside him during all his ghts, encouraging him, is no longer by his side. Martin Scorsese's use of space comments on Jake LaMotta's deterioration, and also comments on the suggested space and distance that exists between the two brothers. INT contact: firstname.lastname@example.org