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Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese

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Martin Scorsese <tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align: center;">Image:MartinScorsese(cannes).jpg
Martin Scorsese at Cannes in 2002.</td></tr>
Born: November 17 1942 (age 74)
Flushing, New York
Occupation: Film director, writer, and producer

<tr><th style="text-align: right;">Spouse:</th><td>Helen Morris</td></tr>

Martin Luciano Scorsese (born November 17, 1942) is an acclaimed American film director.

Scorsese's body of work addresses such themes as Italian-American identity, Roman Catholic concepts of guilt and redemption,<ref>http://www.adherents.com/people/ps/Martin_Scorsese.html</ref> machismo, and the violence endemic in American society. Although he has received much critical acclaim he has never won an Academy Award despite numerous nominations.<ref>http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/film/2591273.stm</ref> Scorsese is widely considered one of the most significant and influential of post-war American film makers. <ref>http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/contributor/1800014966</ref>

Contents

[edit] Childhood

Martin Scorsese was born in Flushing, Queens, New York City, USA and came from a working class Italian-American family; his father, Luciano Charles Scorsese (1912–1993), and mother, Catherine Scorsese (1912–1997), both worked in New York's Garment District. A sickly child, he spent much of his time recovering from asthma at home. It was at this stage in his life that he developed his passion for cinema.<ref>http://www.aanma.org/cityhall/ch_aad_campaign.htm</ref> Scorsese developed an admiration for neo-realist cinema. He recounted its influence in a documentary on Italian neorealism, and commented on how the Bicycle Thieves inspired director Satyajit Ray, and how this influenced his view or portrayal of his Sicilian heritage.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> His initial desire to become a priest was forsaken for cinema; the seminary traded for New York University, where he received his M.A. in film in 1966.<ref>http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0412/is_n1_v24/ai_18533918</ref>

[edit] Early career

Image:Scors 2.jpg
A young Scorsese.

Scorsese attended New York University's film school (B.A., English, 1964; M.A., film, 1966) making the short films What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1963) and It's Not Just You, Murray! (1964). His most famous short of the period is the blackly comic The Big Shave (1967), which featured an unnamed man who shaves himself until profusely bleeding, ultimately slitting his own throat with his razor. The film is an indictment of America's involvement in Vietnam, suggested by its alternative title Viet '67.<ref>http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/s2.cfm?id=386832002</ref> Whatever its thematic concerns, its visceral quality foreshadowed the director's later works.

Also in 1967 Scorsese made his first feature-length film, the black and white Who's That Knocking at My Door with fellow student, actor Harvey Keitel, and editor Thelma Schoonmaker both of whom were to become long term collaborators. This film was a precursor to his later Mean Streets. Even in embryonic form, the "Scorsese style" was already evident: a feel for New York Italian American street-life, rapid editing, an eclectic rock soundtrack and a troubled male protagonist.

[edit] 1970s

From there he became a friend and acquaintance of the so-called "movie brats" of the 1970s: Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg. It was De Palma who introduced actor Robert De Niro to Scorsese, and the two figures became close friends, working together on many projects. During this period the director worked as one of the editors on the movie Woodstock and met actor-director John Cassavetes, who would also go onto become a close friend and mentor.<ref name="scorsese_on_dvd">http://www.filmfreakcentral.net/dvdreviews/scorseseondvd70s.htm</ref>

[edit] Mean Streets

Image:Mean1.gif
Mean Streets (1973), the first "Scorsese" film.

In 1972 Scorsese made the Depression-era gangster film Boxcar Bertha for B-movie producer Roger Corman, who had also helped directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron and John Sayles launch their careers. While it is widely considered a minor work, Boxcar Bertha nonetheless taught Scorsese how to make films cheaply and quickly, preparing him for his first film with De Niro, Mean Streets.

Championed by influential movie critic Pauline Kael, Mean Streets was a breakthrough for Scorsese, De Niro and Keitel.<ref>http://www.newyorker.com/printables/archive/021223fr_archive01</ref> By now the signature Scorsese style was in place: macho posturing, bloody violence, Catholic guilt and redemption, gritty New York locale, rapid-fire editing, and a rock soundtrack. Although the film was innovative, its wired atmosphere, edgy documentary style and gritty street-level direction owed a debt to directors Cassavetes and early Jean-Luc Godard.<ref>http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A99967-1991Nov24.html</ref> (Indeed the film was completed with much encouragement from Cassavetes, who felt Boxcar Bertha was undeserving of the young director’s prodigious talent.)<ref name="scorsese_on_dvd" />

[edit] Taxi Driver

Image:Taxi Driver still 3.jpg
Black and white publicity still from Taxi Driver (1976); Martin Scorsese's cameo with Robert De Niro.

Two years later, in 1976, Scorsese sent shockwaves through the cinema world when he directed the iconic Taxi Driver, an unrelentingly grim and violent portrayal of one man's slow descent into insanity in a hellishly conceived Manhattan.

Scorsese's direction by now was highly accomplished, using jump cuts, expressionist lighting,<ref>http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19760307/PEOPLE/603070302</ref> point of view shots and slow motion to reflect the protagonist's heightened psychological awareness. However Taxi Driver's immense power was due in part to Robert De Niro's intense lead performance. The film co-starred Jodie Foster in a highly controversial role as a child prostitute, and Harvey Keitel as her pimp, "Sport" Matthew.

Taxi Driver also marked the start of a series of collaborations with writer Paul Schrader. The film bears strong thematic links to (and makes several allusions to) the work of French director Robert Bresson, most explicitly Pickpocket (in essence the "diary" of a loner/obsessive who finds redemption). Writer/director Schrader often returns to Bresson's work in films such as American Gigolo, Light Sleeper and Scorsese’s later Bringing Out the Dead.<ref>http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/05/37/taxi_driver.html</ref>

Image:Martin Scorsese cameo Taxi Driver.png
In this cameo, Scorsese lounges in front of the building where Cybill Shepherd's character works. According to Shepherd, Scorsese requested a "Cybill Shepherd-type" for the role she played in Taxi Driver.

Already controversial upon its release, Taxi Driver hit the headlines again five years later, when John Hinckley, Jr. made an assassination attempt on then-President Ronald Reagan. He subsequently blamed his act on his obsession with Jodie Foster's Taxi Driver character (in the film, De Niro’s character, Travis Bickle, makes an assassination attempt on a senator).<ref>http://film.guardian.co.uk/interview/interviewpages/0,,1813797,00.html</ref>

Taxi Driver won the Palme d'Or at the 1976 Cannes film festival,<ref>http://www.festival-cannes.fr/archives/palmesdor.php?langue=6002</ref> also receiving four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, although all were unsuccessful.

Scorsese was subsequently offered the role of Charles Manson in the movie Helter Skelter and a part in Sam Fuller's war movie The Big Red One, but he turned both down. However he did accept the role of a gangster in exploitation movie Cannonball directed by Paul Bartel. In this period there were also several directorial projects which never got off the ground including Haunted Summer, about Mary Shelley and a film with Marlon Brando about the Indian massacre at Wounded Knee.

[edit] New York, New York and The Last Waltz

The critical success of Taxi Driver encouraged Scorsese to move ahead with his first big-budget project: the highly stylized musical New York, New York. This tribute to Scorsese's home town and the classic Hollywood musical was a box-office and critical failure.

New York, New York was the director's third collaboration with Robert De Niro, co-starring with Liza Minnelli (a tribute and allusion to her father, legendary musical director Vincente Minelli). Although possessing Scorsese's usual visual panache and stylistic bravura, many critics felt its enclosed studio-bound atmosphere left it leaden in comparison to his earlier work. Often overlooked, it remains one of the director’s early key studies in male paranoia and insecurity (and hence is in direct thematic lineage with Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and the later Raging Bull).

The disappointing reception New York, New York received drove Scorsese into depression. By this stage the director had also developed a serious cocaine addiction.<ref>http://www.sundayherald.com/47068</ref> However, he did find the creative drive to make the highly regarded The Last Waltz, documenting the final concert by The Band. It was held at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, and featured one of the most extensive lineups of prominent guest performers at a single concert. However, Scorsese's commitments to other projects delayed the release of the film until 1978. Another Scorsese-directed documentary entitled American Boy also appeared in 1978 focusing on Steve Prince, the cocky gun salesman who appeared in Taxi Driver. A period of wild partying followed, damaging the director’s already fragile health.

[edit] 1980s

[edit] Raging Bull

Image:Scors 3.jpg
Scorsese on set of Raging Bull (1980).

By many accounts, Scorsese's included, Robert DeNiro practically saved his life when he persuaded him to kick his cocaine addiction to make what many consider his greatest film, Raging Bull (1980). Convinced that he would never make another movie, he poured his energies into making this violent biopic of middleweight boxing champion Jake La Motta calling it a Kamikaze method of film-making.<ref>http://film.guardian.co.uk/interview/interviewpages/0,6737,867652,00.html</ref> The film is widely viewed as a masterpiece and was voted the greatest film of the 1980s by Britain's prestigious Sight and Sound magazine.<ref>http://film.guardian.co.uk/Century_Of_Films/Story/0,,112416,00.html</ref><ref>http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2005-02-07-dvd-raging-bull_x.htm</ref> It received eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Robert De Niro, and Scorsese's first for Best Director. De Niro won, as did Thelma Schoonmaker for editing, but best director went to Robert Redford for Ordinary People.

Raging Bull, filmed in high contrast black and white, was where the director's style reached its zenith. Taxi Driver and New York, New York had used elements of expressionism to replicate psychological point of view, but here the style was taken to new extremes: employing extensive slow-motion, complex tracking shots, and extravagant distortion of perspective (for example, the size of boxing rings would change from fight to fight).<ref>http://www.eufs.org.uk/films/raging_bull.html</ref> Thematically too, the concerns carried on from Mean Streets and Taxi Driver: insecure males, violence, guilt, and redemption.

Although the screenplay to Raging Bull was credited to Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin (who earlier co-wrote Mean Streets), the finished script differed extensively from Schrader’s original draft. It was re-written several times by various writers including Jay Cocks (who went on to co-script later Scorsese films The Age of Innocence and Gangs of New York). The final draft was largely written by Scorsese and Robert De Niro.<ref>http://film.guardian.co.uk/Feature_Story/feature_story/0,,98151,00.html</ref>

[edit] The King of Comedy

Scorsese’s next project was his fifth collaboration with Robert De Niro, The King of Comedy (1983). An absurdist satire on the world of media and celebrity, it was an obvious departure from the more emotionally committed films he had become associated with. Visually too it was far less kinetic than the style the director had developed up until this point, often using a static camera and long takes.<ref>http://www.ehrensteinland.com/htmls/library/koc.html</ref> The expressionism of his recent work here gave way to moments of almost total surrealism. However it was still an obvious Scorsese work, and apart from the New York locale, it bore many similarities to Taxi Driver, not least of which was its focus on an obsessed troubled loner who ironically achieves iconic status through a criminal act (murder and kidnapping, respectively).<ref>http://www.timeout.com/film/78730.html</ref>

The King of Comedy failed at the box office but has become increasingly well regarded by critics in the years since its release. It is arguable that its themes of vacuous showbusiness and celebrity obsession are more pertinent today than when the film was originally released.

Next Scorsese made a brief cameo appearance in the movie Pavlova: A Woman for All Time, originally intended to be directed by one his heroes, Michael Powell. This lead to a more signicant role in Bertrand Tavernier's jazz movie Round Midnight.

In 1983 Scorsese began work on a long-cherished personal project, The Last Temptation of Christ, based on the 1951 book written by Nikos Kazantzakis (which he was introduced to the director by actress Barbara Hershey when they were both attending New York University in the late 1960s). The movie was slated to shoot under the Paramount Studios banner, but shortly before principal photography was to commence, Paramount pulled the plug on the project, citing pressure from religious groups. In this aborted 1983 version, Aidan Quinn was cast as Jesus, and Sting was cast as Pontius Pilate. (In the 1988 version, these roles were played by Willem Dafoe and David Bowie.)

[edit] After Hours and The Color Of Money

Image:Scors .jpg
Scorsese on the set of After Hours (1985).

After the collapse of this project Scorsese again saw his career at a critical point, as he described in the recent documentary Filming for Your Life: Making 'After Hours' (2004). He saw that in the increasingly commercial world of 1980s Hollywood the highly stylized and personal 1970s films he and others had built their careers on would not continue to enjoy the same status, and decided on an almost totally new approach to his work. With After Hours (1985) he made an aesthetic shift back to a pared-down, almost "underground" film-making style — his way of staying viable. Filmed on an extremely low budget, on location, and at night in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, the film is a black comedy about one increasingly misfortunate night for a mild New York word processor (Griffin Dunne) and featured cameos by such disparate actors as Teri Garr and Cheech and Chong. A bit of a stylistic anomaly for Scorsese, After Hours fits in well with popular low-budget "cult" films of the 1980s, e.g. Jonathan Demme's Something Wild and Alex Cox's Repo Man.

Along with the iconic 1987 Michael Jackson music video Bad, in 1986 Scorsese made The Color of Money, a sequel to the much admired Paul Newman film The Hustler (1960). (The original was directed by Robert Rossen, whose 1940s boxing film Body and Soul, was a major influence on Raging Bull.) Although typically visually assured, The Color of Money was the director's first foray into mainstream commercial film-making. It won actor Paul Newman a belated Oscar and gave Scorsese the clout to finally secure backing for a project that had been a long time goal for him: The Last Temptation of Christ.

[edit] The Last Temptation of Christ

After his mid-80s flirtation with commercial Hollywood, Scorsese made a major return to personal film-making with the Paul Schrader scripted, The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988. Based on Nikos Kazantzakis's controversial 1951 book, it retold the life of Christ in human rather than divine terms. Even prior to its release the film caused a massive furor, worldwide protests against its supposed blasphemy effectively turning a low budget independent movie in to a media sensation [1]. Most controversy centered on the final passages of the film which depicted Christ marrying and raising a family with Mary Magdalene in a Satan-induced hallucination while on the cross.

Looking past the controversy, The Last Temptation of Christ gained critical acclaim and remains an important work in Scorsese's canon: an explicit attempt to wrestle with the spirituality which had under-pinned his films up until that point. The director went on to receive his second nomination for a Best Director Academy Award (again unsuccessful).

Along with directors Woody Allen and Francis Coppola, in 1989 Scorsese provided one of three segments in the portmanteau film New York Stories, called "Life Lessons".

[edit] 1990s

[edit] Goodfellas

After a decade of mixed results, gangster epic Goodfellas (1990) was a return to form for Scorsese and his most confident and fully realized film since Raging Bull. A return to Little Italy, De Niro, and Joe Pesci, Goodfellas offered a virtuoso display of the director's bravura cinematic technique and re-established, enhanced, and consolidated his reputation. The film is widely considered one of the director's greatest achievements.<ref>http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19900902/REVIEWS/9020301/1023</ref> <ref>http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/reviews/review_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000623089</ref> <ref>http://www.filmsite.org/goodf.html</ref>

However, Goodfellas also signified an important shift in tone in the director's work, inaugurating an era in his career which was technically accomplished but some have argued emotionally detached.<ref>http://www.timeout.com/film/dvd/50197.html</ref> Despite this, many view Goodfellas as a Scorsese archetype — the apogee of his cinematic technique.

Scorsese earned his third Best Director nomination for Goodfellas but again lost to a first-time director, Kevin Costner.

In 1990, he acted in a cameo role as Vincent Van Gogh in the film Dreams by legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.

[edit] Cape Fear

Next came Cape Fear (1991), a remake of a cult 1962 movie of the same name, and the director's seventh collaboration with De Niro. Another foray in to the mainstream, the film was a stylized Grand Guignol thriller taking its cues heavily from Alfred Hitchcock and Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter (1955). Cape Fear received a mixed critical reception and was lambasted in many quarters for its scenes depicting misogynystic violence. However, the lurid subject matter did give Scorsese a chance to experiment with a dazzling array of visual tricks and effects. The film garnered two Oscar nominations. Earning eighty million dollars domestically, it would stand as Scorsese's most commercially successful release until The Aviator, thirteen years later.

[edit] The Age of Innocence

The opulent and handsomely mounted The Age of Innocence (1993) was on the surface a huge departure for Scorsese, a period adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel about the constrictive high society of late-19th Century New York. However, its complex psychological undercurrents, immense attention to detail and visual flourishes clearly betray the hand of the director.

[edit] Casino

Image:Casino full.jpg
Scorsese directing De Niro on the set of Casino (1995).

1995's expansive Casino, like The Age of Innocence before it, focused on a tightly wound male whose well-ordered life is disrupted by the arrival of unpredictable forces. The fact it was a violent gangster film made it more palatable to fans of the director who perhaps were baffled by the apparent departure of the earlier film. Critically, however, Casino received mixed notices. In large part this was due to its huge stylistic similarities to his earlier Goodfellas. Indeed many of the tropes and tricks of the earlier film resurfaced more or less intact, most obviously the casting of Joe Pesci as an unbridled psychopath. Casino was by some considerable distance perhaps Scorsese’s most violent and detached film, its early establishing scenes verging on documentary. Any critical misgivings were tempered by the fact the movie remains an extraordinary technical achievement, running to three hours in length.

[edit] A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies

Scorsese still found time for a four hour documentary in 1995 offering a thorough trek through American cinema, from the silent era to 1969. A year after which Scorsese began his feature career, stating "I wouldn't feel right commenting on myself or my contemporaries."

[edit] Kundun

If The Age of Innocence alienated and confused some fans, then Kundun (1997) went several steps further, offering an account of the early life of the 14th Dalai Lama, the invasion of Tibet by China, and the Dalai Lama's subsequent exile to India. Not least a departure in subject matter, Kundun also saw Scorsese employing a fresh narrative and visual approach. Traditional dramatic devices were substituted for a trance-like meditation achieved through an elaborate tableau of colourful visual images.<ref>http://www.timeout.com/film/78857.html</ref>

The film was a source of turmoil for its distributor, Disney, who were planning significant expansion into the Chinese market at the time. Initially defiant in the face of pressure from Chinese officials, Disney has since distanced itself from the project, hurting Kundun's commercial profile.

In the short term, the sheer eclecticism in evidence enhanced the director’s reputation. In the long term however, it generally appears Kundun has been sidelined in most critical appraisals of the director, mostly noted as a stylistic and thematic detour. (It must be noted that Kundun was the director's second attempt to profile the life of a great religious leader, following The Last Temptation of Christ.)

[edit] Bringing Out the Dead

Image:Botd full.jpg
Scorsese back to neo-noir in Bringing Out the Dead (1999).

Bringing Out the Dead (1999) was a return to familiar territory, with the director and writer Paul Schrader constructing a pitch-black comic take on their own earlier Taxi Driver.<ref>http://www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/review/319</ref> Like previous Scorsese-Schrader collaborations, its final scenes of spiritual redemption explicitly recalled the films of Robert Bresson.<ref>http://www.film-philosophy.com/vol4-2000/n12reinert</ref> (It's also worth noting that the film's incident-filled nocturnal setting is reminiscent of After Hours.)

In 1999 Scorsese also produced a documentary on Italian filmakers entitled Il Mio Viaggio in Italia, also known as My Voyage to Italy. The documentary foreshadowed the director's next project, the epic Gangs of New York (2002), influenced by (amongst many others) major Italian directors such as Luchino Visconti and filmed in its entirety at Rome's famous Cinecittà film studios.

[edit] 2000 to present

[edit] Gangs of New York

With a production budget said to be in excess of $100 million, Gangs of New York was Scorsese's biggest and arguably most mainstream venture to date. Like The Age of Innocence, it was a 19th century-set New York movie, although focusing on the other end of the social scale (and like that film, also starring Daniel Day-Lewis). The production was highly troubled with many rumors referring to the director’s conflict with Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein.<ref>http://film.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,860378,00.html</ref> Despite denials of artistic compromise, Gangs of New York revealed itself to be the director's most conventional film: standard film tropes which the director had traditionally avoided, such as characters existing purely for exposition purposes and explanatory flashbacks, here surfaced in abundance.<ref name="guardian_film_of_the_week">http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Critic_Review/Guardian_Film_of_the_week/0,,871400,00.html</ref> <ref>http://www.epinions.com/content_136317079172</ref> <ref>http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,,871715,00.html</ref> The original score composed by regular Scorsese collaborator Elmer Bernstein was rejected at a late stage for a more conventional score by Howard Shore and mainstream rock artists U2 and Peter Gabriel (making commercial, if little historic or contextual sense).<ref>http://www.scoretrack.net/ebernstein.html</ref> The final cut of the movie ran to 168 minutes, while the director's original cut was over three hours in length.<ref name="guardian_film_of_the_week" />

Image:Gangs full.jpg
Leonardo DiCaprio and Scorsese on the set of Gangs of New York (2002).

None the less, the themes central to the film were consistent with the director's established concerns: New York, violence as culturally endemic, and sub-cultural divisions down ethnic lines.

Originally filmed for a release in the winter of 2001 (to qualify for Academy Award nominations), Scorsese delayed the final production of the film until after the beginning of 2002; the studio consequently delayed the film for nearly a year until its release in the Oscar season of late 2002.<ref>http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Exclusive/0,,680795,00.html</ref>

In February of 2003, Gangs of New York received ten Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis. This was Scorsese's fourth Best Director nomination, and many thought it was finally his year to win (the award went instead to Roman Polański). Ultimately, though, "Gangs of New York" took home not a single Academy Award.

2003 also saw the release of "The Blues", an expansive seven part documentary tracing the history blues music from its African roots to the Mississippi Delta and beyond. Seven film-makers including Wim Wenders, Clint Eastwood, Mike Figgis, and Scorsese himself each contributed a 90 minute film (Scorsese's entry was entitled "Feel Like Going Home").

[edit] The Aviator

Image:Avi full.jpg
DiCaprio and Scorsese again, now on the set of The Aviator (2004).

Scorsese's film The Aviator (2004), was a lavish, large-scale biopic of director, producer, legendary eccentric, multi-millionaire, and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes. Like Gangs of New York and, more so, New York, New York before it, the film was another attempt by the director to weld auteur sensibilities with the conventions of golden-era Hollywood. In this respect the film was only partly successful: although generally well received, some critics suggested The Aviator lacked Scorsese's distinct directorial signature.<ref>http://film.guardian.co.uk/salon/0,,1404293,00.html</ref> <ref>http://www.theage.com.au/news/Film/Right-guy-wrong-film/2005/02/25/1109180100911.html</ref> However the film met with widespread box office success and gained Academy recognition.

The Aviator was nominated for six Golden Globe awards, including Best Picture - Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor - Drama for Leonardo DiCaprio. It won three, including Best Picture & Actor - Drama. In January of 2005, The Aviator became the most-nominated film of the 77th Academy Award nominations, nominated in 11 categories including Best Picture. The film has also garnered nominations in nearly all of the other major categories, including Best Picture, a fifth Best Director nomination for Scorsese, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett), and Alan Alda for Best Supporting Actor. Despite having a leading tally, the film ended up with only five Oscars: Best Supporting Actress, Art Direction, Costume Design, Film Editing and Cinematography. Scorsese lost out (again), this time to director Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby (which also won Best Picture).

[edit] The Departed

Image:Departed onset 7.jpg
Scorsese and Matt Damon on the set of The Departed (2006).

Scorsese made a much anticipated return to the crime genre with his latest film, the Boston set thriller The Departed, based on the Hong Kong policier drama Infernal Affairs. The film once again united the director with Leonardo DiCaprio, an actor he has now been working with for three consecutive projects. The Departed also brought Scorsese together with fellow New Hollywood icon Jack Nicholson.

The Departed saw a return to Scorsese’s trademark kinetic style after the relative anonymity of Gangs of New York and The Aviator and the movie opened to widespread critical acclaim with some proclaiming it as one of the best efforts Scorsese had brought to the screen since 1990's Goodfellas,<ref>http://www.chud.com/index.php?type=reviews&id=7778</ref> <ref>http://efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15256&reviewer=198</ref> and still others putting it at the same level as Scorsese's most celebrated classics Taxi Driver, and Raging Bull.<ref>http://www.reelviews.net/movies/d/departed.html</ref> <ref>http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=61::6:F</ref>

[edit] Future projects

  • Scorsese has expressed plans to make his next film project Silence, the story of Portuguese Jesuit missionaries in feudal Japan. Based on the novel by Japanese author Shusaku Endo it is projected for a 2008 release. Early in 2006 Scorsese spoke of directing the movie, and a recent interview with his long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker in Time Out confirmed that this is his next film project.<ref>http://www.timeout.com/film/news/659.html</ref> She is quoted saying "It's something very close to Scorsese's heart – he's wanted to make it for many years but he's never really had the time to write the script and get it funded. But we're all hoping that this time it's going to happen, and it looks like we're going to shoot it in New Zealand as well." Silence is a novel by Shusaku Endo about two Portuguese Jesuit priests, Sebastião Rodrigues and Francis Garrpe, who travel to seventeenth century Imperial Japan (which has isolated itself from all foreign contact) to see how the evangelical mission is going. There they witness the persecution of the Japanese Christians at the hands of their own government which wishes to purge Japan of all Western influence. Eventually they separate and Rodrigues travels the countryside, wondering why God remains silent while His children suffer. Daniel Day Lewis, Harvey Keitel and Javier Bardem are rumoured to star as Sebastião Rodrigues, Father Ferierra and Francis Garrpe respectivly.<ref>http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0490215/board/thread/56300429?d=56648776#56648776</ref>

[edit] Director trademarks

  • Begins his films with segments taken from the middle or end of the story. Examples include Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995).
  • His lead characters are often sociopathic and/or want to be accepted in society.
  • Regularly collaborates with musician Robbie Robertson who acted as music producer/consultant on Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, The Color of Money, Casino and Gangs of New York.
  • Often uses diegetic music (i.e., source of music is visible on-screen).
  • His blonde leading ladies are usually seen through the eyes of the protagonist as angelic and ethereal; they always wear white in their first scene and are photographed in slow-motion (Cybill Shepherd in Taxi Driver; Cathy Moriarty's white bikini in Raging Bull; Sharon Stone's white minidress in Casino.
  • Often uses long tracking shots.
  • Use of montage sequences involving aggressive camera movement and rapid editing, set to popular music.
  • Opening credits for Goodfellas, The Age of Innocence, Casino and Cape Fear (1991) have been designed by Elaine and Saul Bass, the latter being Hitchcock's title designer of choice.
  • Before their deaths, would frequently cast his parents, Charles and Catherine, in bit parts, walk-ons, or supporting roles.
  • Often has a quick cameo in his films (Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, After Hours, The Last Temptation of Christ (albeit hidden under a hood), The Age of Innocence, Gangs of New York). Also, often contributes his voice to a film without showing his face on screen. E.g., provides the opening voice-over narration in Mean Streets and The Color of Money; plays the off-screen dressing room attendant in the final scene of Raging Bull; provides the voice of the unseen ambulance dispatcher in Bringing out the Dead.

[edit] Themes

The main themes of Scorsese's work are intimately wrapped up in his Roman Catholic upbringing and his early attraction to the priesthood. Scorsese has once remarked that when he was growing up the most powerful people in his neighborhood were the gangsters and the priests. He claims that as a filmmaker he is in some ways a combination of the two. Scorsese is now an agnostic and no longer practices in the Roman Catholic religion.

Redemption and sin are the primary themes of Scorsese's films. His heroes tend to be fallen souls seeking redemption in a world of corruption. They often achieve this redemption only through a "passion", a crucifixion of sorts, in which a blood penance is extracted for their former sins. Charlie's final scene in Mean Streets, Travis Bickle's psychotic rampage in Taxi Driver, and Jake LaMotta's pounding his fists into the walls of his prison cell in Raging Bull would all seem to be expressions of this obsession with sin and redemption.

Scorsese's films have, oddly enough, become more bleak in this regard as his career goes on. Goodfellas, Casino, and The Aviator all end with their protagonists trapped in a metaphorical purgatory from which it is uncertain they will be redeemed.

Loneliness and drive also permeate Scorsese's films. His characters tend to be individualist or misunderstood outcasts who are compelled by emotional forces. In these his films, these forces tend to gather strength until they burst out into a frenzy. It has been said that this is one of the factors which attracts actors to his films. This is because it gives them the opportunity to play emotionally aggressive characters.

The corruption of the material world and the fall from paradise are also persistent themes in Scorsese's films, particularly in his gangster films. His characters are often torn between the temptations of the material world and the self-betrayal of their own spirits that the material world demands of them. This conflict often erupts into a cataclysmic fall from grace that sometimes leads to a quiet redemption. This theme is most explicit in Raging Bull, which ends with a New Testament verse spoken by a blind man who has been given sight by Jesus. (However, this quote can be read as part of the film's dedication to Haig P. Manoogian, his NYU film school mentor.)

[edit] Oscar-less director

Scorsese has been nominated five times for an Oscar for Best Director, but has never won. This places him in the company of such directors as Alfred Hitchcock (5 nominations), Robert Altman (5), Stanley Kubrick (4), Federico Fellini (4), Ingmar Bergman (3), and David Lynch (3) none of whom have won a competitive Oscar for directing, though Altman, Hitchcock, Fellini, and Bergman were all awarded honorary Oscars.

Jon Stewart noted this at the 2006 Oscars, joking moments after the Best Song Oscar was given to a hip hop group: "For those of you keeping score: Three 6 Mafia, one; Martin Scorsese, zero." According to Scorsese's editor Thelma Schoonmaker, Scorsese is philosophical about his lack of Academy recognition. "We should feel lucky we even get to make movies anymore," he reportedly said.

Scorsese has however won the prestigious Palme d'Or for Taxi Driver. Furthermore, that film, as well as Goodfellas and Raging Bull, was part of Time Magazine's All-Time Top 100 Movies making him the director with the most number of entries on that list above such respected directors (and admitted influences) as Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles, John Ford, Jean Renoir and Alfred Hitchcock.

[edit] Selected filmography (as director)

[edit] Selected filmography (as actor)

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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[edit] External links

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Martin Scorsese

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