Cut Me: The Surgical Editing of ‘Raging Bull’

Scorsese’s boxing epic owes it all to the edit.
Robert De Niro
United Artists
By  · Published on November 21st, 2017

Director Martin Scorsese has worked with editor Thelma Schoonmaker for four decades, resulting in editing Oscar wins for three of their movies: The Departed, The Aviator, and, the one that cemented the pair’s working relationship, Raging Bull. The meticulous sports opus is one of the most stylish the director’s ever made, with each scene’s craft leaping out of its stark black and white.

The editing, which Jop Leuven’s video essay examines, is one of the major reasons for this. Sometimes it slows, sometimes it quickens – all bowing to the pace of narrative. Schoonmaker’s cuts are vicious and meaningful, as are her matches: sometimes the boxer’s exhausted facial expressions are so similar that their eyes are open the same lazy amount.

This detail work, along with Leuven’s interesting side-by-side-by-side technique that looks as period-appropriate as The Hollywood Squares, highlights the craft that went into each frame of Raging Bull.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).