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Nuetzel, E.J. (1994). Mean streaks: notes for a psychoanalytic screening of Martin Scorsese's film Raging Bull. Free Associations, 4(3):408-420.

(1994). Free Associations, 4(3):408-420

Mean streaks: notes for a psychoanalytic screening of Martin Scorsese's film Raging Bull

Eric J. Nuetzel


Raging Bull (Chartoff and Winkler, 1980) is a disturbing, coarse and bloody film about a brute. Martin Scorsese, the director, has called it ‘rude’ (Oumano, 1985, p. 290). Centring on the professional life of the middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta, the ‘Bronx Bull’, Scorsese examines aspects of LaMotta's life beyond boxing but never far from pain. The film is a portrait of pain, with the feel of tragic cinematic grand opera. The film-maker's dark images leave an indelible impression. Scorsese does not flinch as he takes us inside Jake LaMotta's skull to view events through his eyes. Vincent Canby (1980) wrote: With an effortlessness that is rewarding as it is rare in film, Raging Bull moves back and forth between the objective point of view and the subjective. Thus, Scorsese approached his subject as a psychoanalyst might, in the sense that he mixes subjective with objective impressions. The result is a remarkable study of character, worthy of psychoanalytic scrutiny.

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