A Dreamer Walking

Martin Scorsese- An Observation- Perfecter Of The Elements

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on January 24, 2011

Martin on rightI have just begun to appreciate Martin Scorsese’s ability to use both visuals and sound to enhance our understanding of what his characters are feeling. We are not just told what emotions the character is going through, we see it. The most vivid example of this is in Raging Bull during the fight scenes.

In many ways Scorsese is at his best in Raging Bull. We are literally transported inside the main character Jake LeMotta. During the fights when Jake is doing well we are right in on the action with him, as if seeing most of the fight from Jake’s point of view. The camera is steady and the image is clear. The lights glamorously applaud Jake as if he is the king of the world, or in boxing terms “The Champ”.

This clip from Raging Bull is a perfect example of how the camera, sound, music, and lighting, are all glamorizing Jake’s climb to fame.

This section of the film represents Jake’s professional career at it’s best. Martin tries to stay in the moment as long as possible by doing a continuous shot from the locker room to the ring. The farther down the hall we get the more we are able to hear the glorious applause for Jake. On top of that we have music playing romanticizing the moment. Everything is smooth and there is no extreme close ups. Jake is in total control and thus the visuals and sounds are supporting that control. It almost ends as quickly as it starts. The opponent gives up and Jake is now Champion with all the elements of cinema supporting his victory.

Now take a look at this scene, where Jake finally falls and gives up his title.

Immediately we can tell the audience is not quite on Jake’s side anymore. The punches to Jake seem louder and the lighting is much more dim. We even see steam coming from the fighters and the ring, as if we left the real world and are in some kind of hell. Finally we see Jake has given up. He drops his hands and beckons his appointment to come and finish him off while leaning against the ring. Then it happens. We leave reality completely. We get a shot of Jake in the middle of the frame, a abnormal, wide angled, and uncomfortable perspective. Everything¬† goes quiet (Martin understands sometimes the greatest sound is silence). Then the camera does a tilt down covering the opponent in shadow. The opponent sounds more like an animal then an actual human now, breathing in and out slowly. Behind Jake the steam is more visible then ever before. Jake looks almost distorted in the frame.

The beating begins. Everything seems to go extremely fast now. For the audience the fast abrupt cuts are just as painful as the punches. The camera lights go off like they are attacking Jake along side his opponent. The sounds of the journalist’s camera lights going off are like machine guns emptying out clips. We get extreme close ups of Jake’s face and the blood spurting out in all directions. It no longer matters whether the scene is realistic or not, what Martin cares about is the feelings and emotions he is expressing. We finally end seeing Jake completely destroyed yet still standing.

These are just a few examples of how well Scorsese uses his cinematic skills and experience to further the journey of the viewer. In his movies we will not always see deep attention to plot. All of Scorsese’s cuts will not match up flawlessly. Sometimes we might be frustrated with the characters he is trying to express or the story he is telling. But one thing is for curtain, Scorsese knows how to use the camera. He knows how to literally express emotions through the medium of film. Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, and Aviator are just a few other movies of Scorsese’s where we really are able to explore the inner being of one of his characters.

I think Scorsese does not care if we do or do not like his films. What he wants is for the audience to experience something unique and different. He wants to express himself through his films. He knows the best cinema comes from within.

(He is the LINK to my first Martin Scorsese “Observation” post)

One Response

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  1. Minnow said, on January 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I know I’ve seen a couple of the films you’ve mentioned but it was so long ago I don’t really remember. Anyway, from your description it sounds like Scorsese makes films like some write stories–from a first person singular point of view. That would be a unique way of seeing for a film since most of the time directors seem to have more of a third person point of view. I may have to watch something of his to check it out. Nice post by the way


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