What Martin Scorsese did... and why you should care
"You Shmoopin' me? You Shmoopin' me?"
While other directors make movies with bombs that go off in the sky, under the water, and in your face, with Martin Scorsese, all of the explosions turn inward. The moment of epiphany is the implicit discovery of man at his most base. Scorsese seems to have an escalator that leads directly to some higher power, undoubtedly delivered to him from his early childhood as an altar boy and devout member of the Catholic Church. His diminutive stature gave him a unique perspective on the violent frailties that human beings must conquer in order to discover themselves and each other. The beasts Scorsese likes to taunt are those of frustration, anger, alienation, sexual isolation, and despair. But despite his dark subject material, beneath all of his films is a force that somehow seems to rise up in the grimmest crises. That force distinguishes an elite few from the legions of mediocrity, drawing us like gravity to a kind of shared acceptance. That force is...a raging bull.
With his infectious enthusiasm for cinema, religious devotion to craft and unmistakable New York mannerisms, Martin Scorsese has become one of film's best-loved directors, and a master of the art form. A workaholic with more than three dozen feature films under his belt (and, famously, just one Best Director Academy Award) Scorsese is associated with gritty dramas like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Departed. But his real passion lies in exploring the murky gray areas of morality, and he has explored those themes in settings as diverse as the 19th century New York of The Age of Innocence and the Biblical Mideast of The Last Temptation of Christ. More than just the criminal underworld, New York City or any of the other themes that frequently appear in his work, Scorsese is a master of filming the conflicts in the human soul.
Scorsese's devotion to his work has not always been kind to his personal life. He's struggled with severe depression and substance abuse, and has been married five times. His entire life, Scorsese has said, "has been movies and religion. That's it. Nothing else."1 As he enters his seventh decade, Scorsese has no plans to slow down. Even after all these years and all these takes, the movies are still just too much fun. "You cut from one image to another, and suddenly there's an emotional impact!" Scorsese told an interviewer while making Shutter Island, his 28th picture. "I'm always amazed by it. And it's fresh and new every time. That's kind of exciting, no?"2