…And justice for all

Alfred
Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Federico Fellini, Robert Altman and Cecil B.
DeMille are some of the film directors who never won the Best Director Academy
Award, and it seemed Martin Scorsese was to follow that black list after five nominations.
All of his generation mates had won the award: Coppola, Lucas, and Spielberg,
but in February Scorsese finally joined the club and was rewarded for his film The Departed.

The award
now feels more like an honorary Oscar before it is too late. Even though the
film is an outstanding effort, it pales into insignificance when compared to Scorsese’s
masterpieces, such as Raging Bull,
which is now being rerun in selected theatres across Finland.

Raging Bull (or Kuin
Raivo Härkä
in Finnish) is a tragic biopic based on the life of the harsh
obsessive middle-weight boxing champion Jake LaMotta. The film is popular for Robert
De Niro’s extreme interpretation. He gained more than 25 kilos to play LaMotta
in his declining days in the '60s and he trained as a boxer entering three
matches in Brooklyn, winning two of them. It was actually De Niro who convinced
Scorsese to make the movie.

In spite of
his initial lack of interest, Scorsese took the movie to his own style. He
portrayed life in the Italian ghetto in New York, adding many elements of first
generation Italian-American subculture.

The drama
and the real punishment of LaMotta were outside the ring and his alienation
from his family and brother. Nevertheless, Scorsese put great effort into the
fighting scenes. The sequences were rigorously choreographed beforehand and
planned frame by frame in the storyboard.

The black
and white cinematography by Michael Chapman gives the film a tone that resembles
the boxing films from the 1940s and '50s, and it seems timeless. With the passage
of time, the praise for Raging Bull
has grown and it is now seen as a great American movie, plus one of Scorsese’s
best. In 1986, Aki Kaurismäki paid homage in his hilarious short film Rocky VI.

Raging Bull was the first Best Director nomination for
Martin Scorsese, which was one of eight nominations including Best Picture, and
won Robert De Niro a Best Actor award and Thelma Schoonmaker an award for Best
Film Editing. More than 25 years later, thanks to The Departed, Martin Scorsese is awarded with his well deserved
Academy Award.