Martin Scorsese is a name that is synonymous with the beauty of cinema. He directed some of the greatest works of the 20th century and continues to produce incredible pieces of art to this day. A look back over Scorsese’s career shows a man clearly obsessed with the craft of filmmaking, and it’s possible that he’ll be looked back on in the same vein as the great artists of the renaissance period due to his mastery of what was still, essentially, an emerging art form in the 60s and 70s.
With the upcoming film Killers Of The Flower Moon in the works, now seems like a good time to take a look back at Scorsese’s career and examine why he remains relevant to this day.
Scorsese’s filmmaking history
Scorsese already had a fairly expansive and successful career before Taxi Driver was released, directing a number of short films and documentaries. Mean Streets (1973) was a big step into the mainstream, however, Taxi Driver (1976) was the film that cemented the Italian American as one of the best filmmaking voices in 1970s America. Focusing on a troubled loner played by Robert De Niro, the movie was a deep, impressive character study that heavily inspired many subsequent films, including modern releases such as Joker (2019).
It was when he was at his lowest that Scorsese teamed up with De Niro again to make Raging Bull (1980), widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. Scorsese shines when it comes to exploring the life of his protagonists, which is probably why Raging Bull was such a success, and why Scorsese’s subsequent film The King Of Comedy (starring De Niro once more), is a particularly fascinating piece that explores ego and desire extremely effectively.
His legacy across media
One of the director’s strong points has been imitated by directors such as Tarantino, and that’s the ability to use dialogue-heavy scenes to create humour and danger within the same scene. Throughout the 90s, Scorsese released punchy films such as Goodfellas and Casino. Both of these films are based upon true stories and real-life figures.
Sam, the protagonist of Casino, is based upon Frank Rosenthal, also known as “lefty”. The film touches upon many themes, and remains relevant today. The industry that the film is based within has changed, yet, like all of Scorsese’s films, the themes live on. Much of the imagery used throughout can be found in free slots online today, showing that the 1995 film managed to capture something that is integral to the whole industry that has permeated into modern technological culture. Whether or not the film would work well if it was based in 2021 is uncertain but, generally speaking, Scorsese rarely misses the mark.
Recently, whilst working on the upcoming film Killers Of The Flower Moon, De Niro injured his leg whilst simply stepping over something. He described the pain as “excruciating”, but insisted that it wasn’t a serious injury and wouldn’t impair his acting ability for the remainder of the film. At the age of 77, such things could be expected for the veteran actor.
Injuries such as this are interesting when framed in the context of the long career both Scorsese and De Niro have had. Despite their age, their success hasn’t been hindered. The Irishman (2019) saw De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino star in an epic crime thriller, using de-aging technology to appear younger throughout the duration of the film.
Though some were skeptical of how a film like this could work, it was critically acclaimed and received 10 nominations at the Oscars, as well as a number of other accolades. Based upon this, it’s clear that Scorsese is still on the forefront of the filmmaking industry, and isn’t set to lie down and stop any time soon. Having fallen under some controversial press after claiming that cinema is dying, and that Marvel films are no good, one can only hope the incredible crafter of movie excellence keeps producing work for a long time to come.