“I could have been a contender” is one of the last lines we hear come out of Robert De Niro’s mouth before he exits. He was a contender. He was a champion. He was everything. He had it all and he threw it away. The word “bum” comes up a lot. He calls others a bum, he calls himself a bum. He is a bum. He has no money and no family, but he still has his twisted pride. Any innocence in the film is corrupted by De Niro. His performance is amazing. In the jail cell scene, we see pure anger melt into intense self pity within seconds. He twists and turns throughout the film. He is truly a bull. No matter the obstacle, no matter the loss, he keeps running through life. He never slows and neither does this film. The black and white photography makes the darkness pure black. The blood looks like petroleum. In one sequence, like in The Wizard of Oz, it changes to color. Home videos of De Niro with talents Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriaty playing his family with great skill are shown and it is nothing short of amazing. This is a tale of paranoia and redemption. The cinematography makes this ugly tale look beautiful. It’s one of the greatest films ever made, but it’s not a pleasure to watch. You are its victim. You won’t want to see the destruction of a soul, but Scorsese will keep you around long enough to see it run full circle. The final words before the credits roll are lifted from the Bible. They are about a man who had been blind being asked if he is a sinner. He responds, “[a]ll I know is this: once I was a sinner and now I can see.” That’s redemption. That’s Raging Bull.