New Narratives · Schematic Diagram and Artifacts

Schematic Diagram -Raging Bull Research

It’s very important to research and delve deeper into the film we were creating the diagram for to gain a deeper understanding of its meanings, more so than just watching the film and placing events into a timeline. This would find itself most useful when  developing ideas  for the artefact that ties along with the Schematic, especially if we want to create a contemporary piece that would best represent the concept of the film ‘Raging Bull’ (1980).

Martin Scorsese

(Martin Scorsese (right) and Robert De Niro (left) on set of Raging Bull (1980) )

( Martin Scorsese  – )

Whilst researching I stumbled across a very interesting video regarding the ‘Scorsese Effect’ on film and how he juxtaposes scenes in order to attract audiences, for example following up more exciting action scenes with simple conversations. His most popular film ‘Raging Bull'(1980) would certainly be a great advocate of this juxtaposing film style, like the slowed down motions of a boxing match, contrasting with it’s conventional fast pace, so we can feel the impact of every hit on Jake LaMotta.

Scorsese also implies his fascination with Neo- Realisim in ‘Raging Bull’ (1980), making scenes look as authentic to viewers as possible, with the use of minimalist camera angles, improvised dialogue, or that the film was shot on location. “The conscious choice to cast unknown actors, notably Joe Pesci (who plays LaMotta’s bother, Joey) and a then-untried actress named Cathy Moriarty (who plays LaMotta’s second wife, Vickie) adds to the film’s authenticity.”(Bicker, 2013)

A method to Martin Scorsese’s MADNESS –

Maggie had discovered lot’s of really interesting facts relating to Scorsese, the actors and the movie in general which I found really informative and fascinating! I had never known of Martin Scorsese’s reluctance to direct this movie, due to his disinterest in sports in general, and a lot of issues regarding his personal life, exhaustion and drug abuse. Also the idea of how boxing matches were usually shot from the same camera angle, mean’t the constraint film angles left him clueless as how to approach creating his masterpiece.

One of the main reasons why he took on the gargantuan task of developing this movie, was that the director felt empathy with the real ‘Jake LaMotta’, identifying with his ‘issues of insecurity, rage, depression, self-acceptance, and self-image.’The initial idea for the film was not his own, but instead a pitch from the lead actor ‘Robert De Niro’ and his infatuation with the real Jake LaMotta’s life story. During an interview, Martin Scorsese states how Robert took him on holiday to develop the film’s script, “Then Bob came to say, “Look, we got the script. Let’s work on it.” He took me to Saint Martin for, like, two and a half weeks – and we wrote ten pages a day, improvised together.” (Scorsese 2011)

The reason as to why the film was shot in black and white seemed as more of a homage to the 1950s, when audiences would watch Madison Square Garden fights every Friday on NBC in monochrome. “boxing was a black-and-white sport. It was the only way they’d ever seen it.” (Snider, 2015)  Coloured film was said to decay over time, but with black and white, there wouldn’t be an issue in preserving such a timeless classic. It was rare to find any coloured footage of boxing during the time the film was set, so Scorsese’s easiest option was to stick to what was conventional for the filming of that sport in the 1950’s.

There was a point nearing the end of the film’s production where Scorsese threatened to strike his name off of ‘Raging Bull’, being the perfectionist that he was, a certain deadline for the movie coincided with Scorsese wanting to make a minor change to the film. This being the line “Cutty Sark, please,”that he claimed wasn’t audible enough. Despite his tantrum, Irwin Winkler the producer managed to release the film on schedule, with Scorsese’s name on the title.

Robert De Niro 

Photography By Brian HamillPhotography By Brian HamillPhotography By Brian HamillPhotography By Brian Hamill

(Images – Raging Bull (1980) Directed by Martin Scorsese [Film]. Chartoff-Winkler Productions.)

Another topic of interest for me that Maggie discovered was a webpage that discussed the making of the film and De Niro’s fascination the overall plot of a masochist boxer and his life story. The film was a product of a “great friendship” between Scorsese and De Niro, without De Niro’s connection to the struggling director, the film may have never been made.

A key theme of the film’s narrative was how Jake LaMotta struggled with weight issues, especially when it came to reaching a specific weight when it came to middle weight boxing. What I didn’t realise was how famous De Niro’s weight loss and gain was during the filming process to squeeze into the role, “he had to gain some 60 pounds to do the film’s later sequences (and then lose them after they were finished).” (Schickel, 2010)

Due to the film’s success, it won two Academy Awards and with Robert De Niro’s passion and dedication, he won the Oscar for ‘Best Actor’ in 1981. Martin Scorsese was also nominated for ‘Best Director’ during the same year. De Niro’s dedication to the role strung as far as becoming an actual boxer to encapture the same physical drive as Jake LaMotta.  “LaMotta estimated that the during the first six months, the pair boxed a thousand rounds, working half an hour every day. De Niro also entered three boxing matches in Brooklyn, and won two of them.” (Cobb, 2015)

“I sparred with people with gear on, but we were careful. We weren’t looking to kill anyone. Then I trained with Jake. He would say, ‘Hit me, don’t worry, don’t worry.’ He was 55, but he was really tough. I didn’t realise until I got to his age that you could still take a punch.” (De Niro, no date)

Jake LaMotta 

Jake LaMotta Photo by Keystone/Getty Images

(Left -Jake LaMotta-

Right – )

Jake LaMotta, born in 1921 in New York City, who became the middleweight boxing champion of the world in 1949, was the inspiration that sparked the idea for ‘Raging Bull.’ To reiterate on Scorsese’s need for authenticity in his films, LaMotta actually attended the boxing match scenes that were created before the film’s narrative. Despite the unflattering representation of himself and his boxing career, LaMotta didn’t mind the movie adaption of his life, he had been very adamant in his short comings when writing his autobiography. The only thing Scorsese asked of him was not too attend the filming of more dramatic scenes of the film, mainly because the director didn’t want him to influence his interpretation of his life, even if the events represented weren’t entirely accurate.

From a young age, LaMotta had a very explosive nature, which are consistent themes in the film. In order to create income for his struggling family, fights in the street were usually arranged, which obviously didn’t aid his aggressive personality. It was at the age of 19 that he began his boxing career, known not only for his ability to fight relentlessly, but also for his tactical approaches in the ring. Throughout his biography Raging Bull: My Story, LaMotta revealed his history of abuse towards women, his insecurities and his jealous nature. Prominent themes in Raging Bull’s narrative that are very evident in how his behaviour effected his friends and family.

Preceding his boxing career, as shown in the movie, LaMotta started his own bar in Miami but was arrested and charged on grounds of promoting prostitution and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Resulting in an extremely memorable scene amongst movie goers, of LaMotta breaking down in his jail cell, crying and punching the walls in a fit of rage.


Snider, E.D. (no date) 15 punchy facts about ‘raging bull’. Available at: (Accessed: 10 February 2017).
Scorsese, M. (2011) ‘Martin Scorsese: On Raging Bull, Robert De Niro, Movies, and More’. Interview with 19 February, .
Schickel, R. (2010) Brutal attraction: The making of raging bull. Available at: (Accessed: 10 February 2017).
Cobb, K. (2015) 10 things you didn’t know about ‘raging bull’. Available at: (Accessed: 10 February 2017).
Bicker, P. (2013) Magnificent Obsession: Robert De Niro on the Set of Raging Bull. Available at: (Accessed: 10 February 2017).
Biography. com Editors (2016) Jake LaMotta Biography. Available at: (Accessed: 10 February 2017).
Group Credit

Lydia –

Rachael -

Maggie –


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