There most likely isn’t a person alive who loves film as much as Martin Scorsese does; his knowledge is encyclopaedic and his passion for the artform is incomparable. All of the ardour has been abundant in his career that spans 50 + years, and audiences and critics revere his work almost as feverishly as Scorsese does the entirety of cinema. With a resume including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas, it’s no surprise that he is the most nominated living director with eight Best Director nominations at the Academy Awards – but he has shockingly only won one for The Departed. However, Scorsese has a slew of exciting projects on the horizon that could alter that statistic.
Scorsese was born in Queens, New York but moved to Little Italy, Manhattan with his family before he was of school age. As a young boy, severe asthma prevented Scorsese from participating in sports or physical activity, so his brother would frequently take him to the cinema and his passion for film was born. He consumed every genre and his taste was utterly all-encompassing, but he cited Bicycle Thieves, Paisa, Rome and Open City with influencing his portrayal and view of his Sicilian roots. Scorsese has claimed that other significant film-makers who have impacted his career include Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini. He attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in the mid 60s where he made several shorts, with his most famous one being The Big Shave (1967). In the 70s, he formed friendships with legendary directors such as Francis Ford Coppola and Brian De Plama and the latter subsequently introduced Scorsese to his future long-time collaborator, Robert DeNiro.
The working relationship between Scorsese and DeNiro is one for the ages and one that is emblematic of true quality collaboration. Together, the director and actor have co-created some of cinema’s most incredibly memorable characters, namely Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle and Raging Bull’s Jake La Motta, and significant character moments. No one can forget Travis Bickle standing in front of a mirror holding a gun and asking his own reflection, “You talkin’ to me?” Even though the character was so complex and contradictory, the star and director didn’t have many in depth discussions about him, with DeNiro claiming, “We didn’t talk about the script because we all knew that guy.” Scorsese’s appreciation and desire to portray such interesting protagonists is complemented by his impressive technical finesse that makes for even more dynamic storytelling. The long tracking shot in Goodfellas that showcases the Copacobana club walk-through is simply masterful whilst the director’s employment of jump cuts, freeze frames and rock ‘n’ roll driven soundtracks cohesively work together to create unforgettable cinema. His later efforts have explored riveting and entertaining power struggles (Gangs of New York and The Wolf of Wall Street) and have featured his new muse, Leonardo DiCaprio, and their partnership has proved equally successful and rewarding for both involved.
Scorsese’s follow-up to the 2016 religious epic Silence sees the director returning to his roots and delving back into the genre that we love to see him mix in – the gangster, crime drama film. In partnership with Netflix, 2019 will see the release of The Irishman, based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Final Ride by Jimmy Hoffa. It boasts an all-star cast of Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel and Ray Romano, and with a $125 million budget, you can guarantee that there’ll be no expense spared. 2019 can’t come soon enough.
• Mean Streets (1971)
• Taxi Driver (1976)
• Raging Bull (1980)
• Goodfellas (1990)
• The Departed (2006)
• The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
By Evie Brudenall