Raging Bull: Special Edition/Gold Edition (1980)

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Released 21-Aug-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-The Bronx Bull
Featurette-Jake's Jokes
Easter Egg-Photo Gallery (6)
Easter Egg-Jake La Motta Defends Title
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1980
Running Time 123:46
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:31)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Martin Scorsese
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Robert De Niro
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Raging Bull was, until this review, an unknown movie to me, which is strange given that I am a fan of Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. Any movie with all three working together is almost certain to be enjoyable to me, and both Goodfellas and Casino rank very highly on my list of favourite movies. I must say that after watching it I was not disappointed, and watched the movie again shortly thereafter for pleasure.

    The story, set in the 40s through to the 60s revolves around Jack La Motta, a middleweight boxer who in the 40s was a champion in that field. In all other fields, he was a dismal failure - at least that is what the movie tells us. Temperamental, paranoid, violent and even psychotic would be words used to describe his character, though reality would be perhaps less kind. We see his character go from admired boxing champion to a low-rent pathetic bar entertainer. Robert De Niro, replete with false nose and variable weight, plays this character with as much conviction and passion as I have ever seen from any actor, and his role earned him his second Oscar in 1981 (his first being for The Godfather II) - it was a well-deserved award. In only his second major role, Joe Pesci plays Joey, Jake's long-suffering brother and manager. His performance bounces off De Niro's perfectly, and is truly inspired; no other person on this planet can say a certain four-letter word beginning with "f" with as much vigour and frequency as this man.

    The movie itself is based on the book by Jake La Motta, and even has him on hand as a consultant. Seeing this man and hearing him talk, and then watching the movie again makes Robert De Niro's performance seem all the more remarkable. This movie is gritty, dirty and often ugly in typical Scorsese fashion, and I would like it no other way.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The movie is presented in its correct theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and it is not 16x9 enhanced. I find this very disappointing for a movie which garnered two Oscars.

    The image was generally quite sharp and clear, though somewhat variable in its presentation. The movie was filmed in black and white, and in this format contrast and lighting are all-important; it is the former which seemed disparate from one scene to another, and ranged from deeply contrasting with slightly poor shadow detail to little contrast and excellent shadow detail. As a result, the ever-present film grain was also different depending on the contrast level, and was notably strong in some scenes and barely visible in others. There was no edge-enhancement noted, which helped maintain a smooth image. The lack of anamorphic enhancement limited the resolving power of the transfer. Nonetheless, there was still a pleasing amount of detail in the image.

    The only colours used during this movie are during mock 16mm home video shots, which are deliberately faded.

    There were no MPEG artefacts of any kind; many difficult scenes were present, including smoky lighting and low contrast and at no time was posterization or blocking noticed, which made for a very solid presentation. The movie was peppered with film artefacts from start to end, and although not severe, they did join forces with the grain to make for a very "film-like" look. There was minor aliasing from time to time, given the sometimes strong contrast and lack of anamorphic enhancement.

    A sampling of the English subtitle stream revealed it to be only barely similar to the dialogue, and very minimal in verbosity.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring during Chapter 16 at 66:31 minutes. It was obvious, though not distracting..

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is one Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track on offer, and it is a rather utilitarian one at that.

    Dialogue was almost always very clear-sounding and well-integrated into the environment, though looping was easy to pick out from time to time. There were no lip-sync problems.

    The music is used sparingly and in typical Scorsese fashion. It is generally from the Italian composer Pietro Mascagni, and is quite sad and deep in emotion. I found it quite fitting, as the story is not one of the more uplifting I have seen recently. Recorded in mono, the music comes across very nicely with good frequency usage.

    I hesitate to call this soundtrack a surround one, but there are one or two scenes in which the crowd at a wrestling game can be heard from the rear speakers. As for the rest of the time, they simply are not used. It is actually rare for this soundtrack to break out of mono, with the centre speaker doing all of the work for 99% of the movie. In truth though, given the nature of the movie, I rarely noticed and only paid attention on the second viewing.

    In Pro-Logic mode, the subwoofer was used from time to time for the music and effects, and was well-integrated, though this was more of an effect of my receiver than anything else.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in 1.85:1, non-16x9 enhanced and in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, this is quickly paced, stylised and quite effective. Running time: 2:03 minutes.

 

    The balance of the extras are to be found on the second disc of this two-disc set.

Featurette - The Bronx Bull

    Presented in 1.78:1, non-16x9 enhanced and in Dolby Digital 2.0. Clocking in at 26:44 minutes, this is a riveting look at the movie-making technique, and is lead by Thelma Schoonmaker, who won an Oscar for her editing of this movie in 1981. She proudly takes us through some scenes and describes how they were achieved from a directing, acting and editing standpoint. Also contains interviews with the often-mumbling Jake La Motta. Filmed in widescreen, this is a further injustice being non-16x9 enhanced.

Featurette - Jake's Jokes

    Six short video snippets of Jake telling what he considers to be jokes. More than being funny or not, they are revealing of his character and are of interest. You may view each one separately from a menu, or play all of them, which takes 5:52 minutes.

Easter Egg - Photo Gallery

    Buried away in the title on the second disc is the first Easter egg, which is a collection of six stills of dubious worth. All feature Jack on set from a single photo shoot.

Easter Egg - Jake La Motta Defends Title

    Close by the first egg is a second, which has the tail-end of a real fight for your viewing pleasure. This highlights the accuracy of the fights during the movie, as this one in particular is referenced. It also shows us just how closely Robert De Niro came to looking like Jake La Motta in his younger days.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Region 4 misses out on:

    There is no compelling reason to prefer one version over the other, though non-16x9 enhanced NTSC can look quite nasty on a widescreen display. I would recommend the local version.

Summary

    As a movie, this is art from one of the best in the business, Martin Scorsese. Combine that with an Oscar-winning performance from Robert De Niro and you can't go much wrong. Whilst the lack of 16x9 enhancement is truly disappointing, the image is nonetheless very good and the audio is true to the movie.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Paul Cordingley (bio)
Tuesday, August 21, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-900E, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T43W1 16:9 RPTV. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DB-930
SpeakersFront & Rears: B&W DM603 S2, Centre: B&W LCR6, Sub: B&W ASW500

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Comments (Add)
Issue with different ratings... - [S]alvatore