Makeup stills from Raging Bull. Test polaroids of De Niro as he tries to perfect La Motta’s look by stuffing cotton in his nostrils. This page is one of dozens of make-up tests, all of which attest to De Niro’s obsessive devotion to minute details. Images courtesy of The Robert De Niro Collection, The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
Martin Scorsese’s influential filmmaking legacy is the focus of a new exhibition, aptly titled Martin Scorsese, at the Deutsche Kinemathek—Museum für Film und Fernsehen in Berlin. The exhibition, which opened in January and runs through May 12, purports to examine “the rich spectrum of Scorsese’s oeuvre,” including his sources of inspiration, working methods, and lasting contributions to American cinema. The Ransom Center loaned 19 items from the Robert De Niro and Paul Schrader archives to supplement materials from Scorsese’s private collection. Together, they constitute the first international exhibition about Scorsese.
- Paul Schrader’s outline for Raging Bull
- Raging Bull screenplay
- Robert De Niro’s Raging Bull: The history of a performance and a performance of history
Screenwriter Paul Schrader’s outline for Raging Bull
There’s something so intimate and nerdy about reading a writer’s notes on a movie, especially when that movie has its own special (and memorable) place in history. These notes not only give you an idea of how a film was pieced together, but also how a particular writer works; what their process looks like. Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese worked on four films together (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, Bringing Out the Dead), and when Schrader donated this outline to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, he told the New York Times that he liked his outlines to be as detailed as possible. “It’s part of the oral tradition. Rather than writing my way through an outline, I tell my way through it, and then each time I tell it, I re-outline it,” he said, adding, “It’s very important to calibrate these events and when they’re happening. Somebody says, ‘I don’t know why this scene doesn’t work,’ and you say to them: ‘It’s very simple. It should have happened 10 pages earlier. Then it would have worked.’”
From an interview with Kevin Jackson in Schrader on Schrader: “Mardick Martin’s draft of Raging Bull was a script that Scorsese and De Niro had, but they just weren’t happy with it, so when Bob came by late in 1978, while I was shooting Hardcore, I went straight from shooting Hardcore into writing Raging Bull, editing my film by day and writing by night. My main contribution to it was the character of Joey La Motta. Jake didn’t like his brother much, so he wasn’t in the first draft and there was no drama there. I did some research, met Joe and he struck me as much more interesting. You had these two young boxers, the Fighting La Mottas, and one was sort of shy while the other one had a lot of social tools, so Joey quit fighting and managed his brother. The only thing Jake was good at was taking a beating, he wasn’t a terrific boxer but he could take a beating and meanwhile Joey was off managing and getting all the girls. So injecting that sibling relationship into the script made it a financeable film.” —Erik Davis