This documentary offers a look into the making of Raging Bull, a 1980 American biographical sports drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, and adapted by Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin from Jake LaMotta’s memoir Raging Bull: My Story. It stars Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta, a middleweight boxer whose sadomasochistic rage, sexual jealousy, and animalistic appetite destroyed his relationship with his wife and family. It includes interviews with master editor Thelma Schoonmaker.
Also featured in the film are Joe Pesci as Joey, La Motta’s well-intentioned brother and manager who tries to help Jake battle his inner demons; and Cathy Moriarty as his abused wife. The film features supporting roles from Nicholas Colasanto, Theresa Saldana, and Frank Vincent.
Scorsese was initially reluctant to develop the project, though he eventually came to relate to La Motta’s story. Schrader re-wrote Martin’s first screenplay, and Scorsese and De Niro together made uncredited contributions thereafter. Pesci was an unknown actor prior to the film, as was Moriarty, who was suggested for her role by Pesci. During principal photography, each of the boxing scenes was choreographed for a specific visual style and De Niro gained approximately 60 pounds (27 kg) to portray La Motta in his early post-boxing years. Scorsese was exacting in the process of editing and mixing the film, expecting it to be his last major feature.
After receiving mixed initial reviews (and criticism due to its violent content), it went on to garner a high critical reputation and is now widely regarded among the greatest films ever made, including by Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, renowned British motion picture historian Leslie Halliwell, the American Film Institute, Time magazine, The New York Times, Variety, Entertainment Weekly, Empire magazine, Total Film, Film 4, BFI’s and Sight and Sound. It was listed in the National Film Registry in 1990, its first year of eligibility.”