RationaleI chose this scene because it redeems Jake LaMotta as a character. Throughout the whole movie, Scorsese presented him in a way that would enrage viewers over the barbarity of his actions. With this scene it made me realize that Jake‟s outbreaks of anger and violence are inherent in everybody, and that everybody in life is prone to the same mistakes Jake has made.
Mise-en-scene The close-up shot of the light bulb which illuminates the room contrasts with the boxing ring, where everything was dark and murky with smoke clouding out the crowd. The darkness of the boxing ring symbolized the negative energy of Jake‟s emotions and his inner blindness as a character. In contrast, the light bulb shows his newfound clarity and his catharsis over the events of his life. The telephone is a metaphor for the state of Jake‟s relationships in life. Telephones are usually used to call acquaintances that are far away. This is the same as Jake‟s relationships in life. He wants to reach back out to his wife and his brother, but his past misdeeds have distanced himself too far from them.
The close-up shot of the disarranged hangers and acoat gives viewers a sense of being worn-out. Thishelps cement the fact that Jake has given up on lifeand has finally resigned himself to becoming a two-bitentertainer. He has essentially hung-up all ambitionsleft in life. The feeling of being worn-out not onlyconveys that it is the end of the movie but it is also theend of Jake LaMotta‟s ambitions.Two objects are also used as metaphors to show howJake has cleaned up his life. The Kleenex box isplaced right under the mirror, as well as the ironwhich can be seen in the background of the scene.Irons are used to straighten clothing which serves as ametaphor to how his new position as an entertainer is„straighter‟ than his old one of a boxer. Kleenextissues are generally used to clean the nose of aperson. It is a a metaphor for how Jake has not onlycleaned up his profession but has cleaned himself upas a person as well.
The newspapers on the desk and pictures on the wall represent the past. They are arranged in amessy manner to show the insignificance of Jake‟s past to his current position and status in life.Also, like the coat hangers, the newspapers give viewers a feeling of being worn-out. It shows howhis violent nature and actions as a person have eroded the value of his past accomplishments.Jake‟s reign as a boxing world champion no longer holds any value because his violent tendenciesto his brother, wife, and other people outweigh any accomplishments he once had.
The key to interpreting Jake‟s recitation of the scene from In the Waterfront, is the mirror. Itchanges the scene, rather literally, to one of self-reflection. When Jake says the words, “It was you,Charlie,” he is not blaming his brother or his wife for the state his life is in, he is blaming himself.The mirror helps emphasize the point that he is talking to himself. He faults himself for falling inthe situation he is in. This ties back to the metaphor of the light bulb, which is used to show Jake‟snew sense of understanding over his past actions.
CompositionThe proximity of the camera to DeNiro‟s character and the wall creates a sense of claustrophobia. Thiscontrasts with the opening title sequence of the movie where there was an enormous amount of openspace, which was symbolic of Jake‟s strong boxing ambitions. The lack of open space and claustrophobiain this scene shows how far his dreams and ambitions have taken him. Despite all his hard work and reignas world champion of middleweight boxing, he ends up as a measly entertainer, retaining none of theriches he has earned before.The scene is a single OTSshot. Although LaMotta is setas the dominant figure of theshot, the only way audiencescan clearly see his face isthrough the mirror. Thisenforces the point that thescene is a moment of self-contemplation for Jake. It isonly possible to see his backbecause he is looking backand evaluating his pastactions.
Black & White Martin Scorsese manipulated black and white to set up Jake LaMotta as the dominant character of the scene. By having the camera set up behind LaMotta‟s back, more black is created around the scene. This distinguishes the character from the rest of the room, which is mostly white. The black created by LaMotta‟s character dominates the room, further marking him and his monologue as the point of interest for the scene. Moreover, this helps cement Jake LaMotta‟s loneliness as a character. He used what power he had to dominate other people and they left him completely as a result making him completely alone.
Camera Movement When the man comes in telling Jake that he has five minutes left, cinematographer Michael Chapman tilts the camera very slightly to the right just so the man‟s face is just out of view. This serves to isolate Jake LaMotta as the only character in the scene. This stresses the extent of Jake‟s loneliness and how the meaningful social relationships he once had are all gone.
Framing The lining on the mirror creates framing by surrounding Jake‟s face. This is symbolic of the entrapment he feels from the situation he is in. Jake does not live like a former world boxing champion. Instead, he lives like a “bum.” He states in his speech: “I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” The framing enforces the fact that he has fallen in a situation where the damage he has done to his former loved ones, his brother and his ex-wife, has become irreversible.
Costume ChoiceJohn Boxer and Richard Bruno decided to have Jake wear a tuxedo in this scene, which is thefinal scene of the movie. The tuxedo Jake LaMotta wears in the end stands in total contrast to thebare, primal uniform of a boxer. This ties into the idea that Jake has truly changed as a person.The clean formality shows how Jake has reformed as a character and that he is no longer violentand blind. Furthermore, he has reformed himself into a man who understands his past actions.This also ties in to the metaphor of the light bulb, which showed his level of understanding overhis emotions and past actions.
Acting At the end of the scene, before Jake goes to his performance, he gets up and shadowboxes with bull-like intensity while continuously reciting “I‟m the boss, I‟m the boss…” as if to remind himself of his old boxing days. As he shadow boxes in and around the room his presence in the shot gradually lessens and lessens. First his actual presence disappears and only his reflection remains, until he disappears completely from the scene, all while shadowboxing and repeating “I‟m the boss, I‟m the boss…” This is representative of Jake LaMotta‟s essence as a character throughout the whole movie. It characterizes him as a man with a strong will whose pride remains intact even as he loses the things he holds dear to life. It shows how even though he has resigned all of his life ambitions, he still retains his pride as a man to the very end.
Religious AllusionScorsese ends the film with a quote from the Bible, John IX 24-26. The passage deals with themes ofsecond chances, redemption, and judgment; these relate to Jake‟s troubles and situation. Like the man whohad been blind, Jake had been previously blind to his own violent tendencies, and now he can finally “see”who he once was. Also, throughout the film Jake‟s violent tendencies led audiences to view him as arepugnant character. Like Jesus giving the blind man back his sight, Scorsese asks audiences to give Jake asecond chance as well. The quote teaches people not to be so hasty in placing their judgment and that thehate for LaMotta may be no different from the hatred he formerly expressed towards other people.
DialogueThe speech that is given is from a film from 1954 called On the Waterfront. The speech relates towhat has become of Jake LaMotta. He states that he was once “an up and comer who‟s now a downand outer.” Which connects to how he was once a boxing champion who once had everything, butnow he‟s lost everything, including the people he once loved in life. Another line he says is that “it‟slike a peak you reach and then it‟s downhill.” The line further parallels the rise and fall of Jake‟sown boxing career and social relationships. It also expresses the gradual decline of Jake‟s perceivedvalue of his own life.
When the other man comes in, he tells Jake that “[he‟s] got about five minutes.” This line is acase of dramatic irony. Like Jake, who has 5 minutes left the prepare for his show, the moviealso has just as much time left until the ending. Later, Jake asks the man “There a lot of peopleout there?” and the man replies, “Yeah, sure.” The line of dialogue shows how LaMotta has anintrinsic desire to amaze and impress other people. The boxing rings he fought in beforecontained thousands of people in the crowd. Jake desires the same attention and seeks to fulfillhis desires by entertaining other people.
Editing The scene begins with several close-up shots of various objects, such as a telephone or a light bulb. It then moves on to a long continuous shot of LaMotta speaking with very little camera movement. Lastly, while DeNiro can be heard shadowboxing, the sound abruptly ends and the movie cuts to a completely black screen with a Biblical quote slowly revealing itself. The close-up shots at the beginning heighten the feeling of claustrophobia in the scene. LaMotta‟s speech is left as one long, continuous shot because contemplation is a very slow process, and the continuous shot mimics that calmness. Finally, the the film cuts right when LaMotta has no presence at all in the scene. He can be heard shadowboxing until the film cuts right when he takes a break. The purpose of this is to show the extent of how far he has fallen and how he holds nothing left in life.
Camera Angle The camera is placed so that the scene is shot at eye level. This is used to depict Jake LaMotta from a more human perspective. Scorsese uses this angle to bring audiences closer to him and evaluate him as a human. It causes audience to rethink this character as someone who has made mistakes anyone else could have made. This interpretation is reinforced by the quote from the Bible at the end of movie, which deals with the concept of placing judgment upon others.
Stylistic DifferencesRaging Bull is the antithesis to Sylvester Stallone‟s Rocky. Unlike Rocky and other typical sport movies,Raging Bull does not end with a climatic confrontation with a rival. The movie‟s final scene consists ofJake talking to himself in front of a mirror. This establishes the fact that the real antagonist and villain ofthe movie is Jake LaMotta himself. His shortsightedness and violent actions are the causes of his troublesand misfortune in life, not by anyone else in the film. It is also interesting to note that the ending consistsof Jake calmly contemplating the events of his life, this contrasts with the bloody boxing confrontation atthe end of Rocky. Jake is not surrounded by a crowd numbering the thousands, it ends with him in acramped up room while wearing a classy suit. This sets aside Raging Bull from other boxing and sportsfilms, setting it up as an important drama as well as a violent boxing movie.