It’s difficult to explain just how important Martin Scorsese has been to my own discovery of the cinema. Especially so without resorting to what reads like hyperbole.
When I was 15 years old I had to write an essay for an English literature class on a film. This was during the days before Media Studies became a legitimate subject, with film, media and other similar areas covered as a sideline in English class. At 14 years old I had yet to discover the broad scope of the movies. As a bit of a nerd with a fondness for Star Wars and the big blockbusters of the day I’d read Empire Magazine from an early age, but tended to skim over anything that didn’t revolve around a lightsaber or a CGI dinosaur (incidentally, the casting of Vince Vaughn in a CGI dinosaur flick, 1997’s The Lost World also set me on a chain of events that would later interweave with Scorsese, thanks to his earlier Swingers). Alas, when set a piece of course-work focussed on a classic movie I stumbled upon Scorsese’s Goodfellas by pure chance: it was a legitimate case of the right film being in the right place at the right time, in that it was playing on the Sky Cinema channel (previously Sky Movies Gold and the British equivelent of TCM at the time) on the evening that I set out to complete the task. It was this unorthodox approach to completing my schoolwork that led to an equally unorthodox film to cover at just 14 years of age.
The task at hand led to another “first”. In 1997 the internet was little more than a novelty, and in my quest to find the credits of Goodfellas I resorted to a Yahoo! search and my first round on the Internet Movie Database. And the rest is history.
Scorsese, led to Polanski (via his The Tragedy Of Macbeth, another English Literature discovery and an equally unorthodox film to look to), and the pair then led to Godard, Cassavetes, Anderson’s Paul Thomas and Wes, Truffaut and the rest. One of the great things about Scorsese especially is just how much of a mainstay to my own line of thinking he has remained since that faithful day half a lifetime ago. His work is a constant fixture of any poll we do (Shutter Island was 2011’s number 3, and Hugo 2012’s number 2, while Gangs Of New York came third in our best of the decade poll in 2010). His passion for the wider world of the movies might just be his greatest legacy, with his fingerprints all over some of the most important film restoration work of the last twenty years thanks to his Film Foundation. Anyone who has seen him talking about movies, either in person or on one of the seemingly infinite video resources available on the matter on various DVD’s or online (his audio commentary on the Criterion Collection edition of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Life & Death Of Colonel Blimp is a personal favourite) will know of his seemingly limitless energy and affection for cinema, while his A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies and My Voyage To Italy remain landmark documentaries on their respective subjects (a film on the British cinema is due soon).
I had the greatest of pleasures to meet Martin Scorsese once, a couple of years ago. While the incident was far too fleeting an affair to transact anything of any real substance, the briefest of handshakes and an aknowledgement of the debt of grattitude I owed to the man was enough for it to become one of my most fondly held memories.
Happy Birthday Marty.Adam Batty – Editor-In-Chief Further Reading For this weeks further reading I’m taking the indulgent route and linking a couple of Hope Lies articles on the work of Martin Scorsese. Normality will return next week. Parallels, Pimps And Politicians, The 35th Anniversary Of Taxi Driver – My most recent piece on Taxi Driver.
Shutter Island – In Review – An early article here, in which I tackle Shutter Island. Méliès Reborn – Martin Scorsese’s Hugo – Our review of Hugo. Hugo Addendum – The Film In Context – An interactive index of many of the cinematic reference points in Hugo. Further Viewing The Layla scene from Goodfellas, the music from which my wife and I walked down the aisle to at the end of our wedding! Also My entry for last weeks Criticwire Survey, on movie mulligans.