Presented in ScorseseScope

Martin Scorsese has blessed the cinematic world with his films. The veteran director is often recognized not merely for his cinematic achievements, but for his profound appreciation for film in general.

The site film-foundation.org informs readers that Scorsese “Spearheaded a campaign in the early 1980s to address the problem of color fading in contemporary film stock. In addition to yielding exceptional success, the campaign stimulated public support for preservation.” Since then, the American filmmaker has assumed the roles of Co-Chair of the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the American Film Institute, Vice-President of the Artists Rights Foundation, and he is even a member of the Board of Directors of the National Foundation for Film Preservation.

Scorsese is a filmmaker whose work has been widely viewed around the globe. Controversy is something that is not new to the Italian-American director whose pictures often examine religious themes, violence, and crime. His latest film, The Departed (2006), is a prime example that illustrates many of the director’s trademarks. Some of Scorsese’s earliest pictures showcase the style he would later apply to his movies. Mean Streets is arguably the first Scorsese film to underline the Scorsese style: rock & roll music filled the soundtrack, a love for a violent New York he was raised in, and of course quick editing.

One story that has marked the filmmaker’s life involves another influential director – the late John Cassavetes. It was Cassavetes who after viewing Scorsese’s first studio feature, Boxcar Bertha (1972), let Scorsese have a taste of his honest criticism. He told Scorsese that his movie wasn’t involving and that he had spent a year of his life making “a piece of shit.” But Cassavetes instantly saw the talent and potential in Scorsese and so advised him to go out and make a film that was personal to him. Scorsese didn’t take Cassavetes’ guidance with a grain of salt. Instead, Scorsese would go on to write and directed Mean Streets (1973) with a young Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel. This film received a more positive response from Cassavetes who, this time around, praised the filmmaker. “Now, that’s a movie,” said Cassavetes.

As successful careers go, Scorsese would later go on to create some of cinema’s most significant films: Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), and Casino (1995) to name a few – all which went on to achieve great box office results and international acclaim.

Some filmmakers gain entry to Hollywood by making only one good film. Others make good movies but are not consistent. Scorsese is an example of a director who has never taken a step in the wrong direction with any of his projects.

To quote Roger Ebert: “Scorsese is never on autopilot, never panders, never sells out, always goes for broke; to watch his films is to see a man risking his talent, not simply exercising it.” He has made nearly 50 films and each was made with unmatchable risk, passion and energy.

Scorsese recently accepted the Golden Globe and the Director’s Guild award for Best Director (The Departed).

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