Was voted the 4th greatest director of all time by Entertainment Weekly, making him the only living person in the top 5 and the only working film director in the top 10 (Ingmar Bergman being retired as a filmmaker).
It is remarkable that a director would set out his agenda so clearly, almost instinctively, at the start of his career. Martin Scorsese's I Call First, retitled on release as Who's That Knocking at My Door, was a brilliant debut when I saw it in 1967, and forty years later it stands up as a powerful, evocative film. It has not aged because its underlying impulses are so strong and its visual style so effective.
It's a terrible job. To make movies you really have to be in a situation where if you didn't make them you'd die...These days, as you get older, another perspective comes into play. That initial rush--I don't know what you call it: power, anger, whatever. You splatter it up there on the screen for fifteen years, and suddenly you take a deep breath. You're still alive...then it's interesting to see if you still have enough in you to keep making films from a different point of view. Some people don't. I don't know. I'm kind of excited to see what happens if I get to that point.
The most renowned filmmaker of his era, Martin Scorsese virtually defined the state of modern American cinema during the 1970s and '80s. A consummate storyteller and visual stylist who lived and breathed movies, he won fame translating his passion and energy into a brand of filmmaking that crackled with kinetic excitement. Working well outside of the mainstream, Scorsese nevertheless emerged in the 1970s as a towering figure throughout the industry, achieving the kind of fame and universal recognition typically reserved for more commercially successful talents.
Martin Scorsese was born on 17 November 1942 in Flushing, Long Island, the second son of Charles and Catherine Scorsese. His parents were both children of Sicilian immigrants who had settled in New York around 1910. The centrality of the family in Italian immigrant culture, its emphasis on the struggle for success, its close ties with the Roman Catholic Church and the everyday proximity of organized crime--these were to dominate Martin Scorsese's formative years. The alternative to remaining, like his older brother Frank, within this closed society with its strong sense of pride, yet equally deep feeling of isolation, was, for the young Martin, to immerse himself in the fantasy world of cinema.
The seeds of Martin Scorsese's destiny were planted by his grandparents when the two families independently settled on Elizabeth Street. Francesco, a proud man with no formal education (but with a strength of character) worked as a laborer. At twenty-one he married Teresa in the old Saint Patrick's Church, which presided over Little Italy on an entire city block. The Scorsese's moved to 241 Elizabeth, and the Cappa's chose the fourth floor of 232 across the street. Martin Scorsese's father, Charles (whose real name was really Luciano) was born to Francesco and Teresa in about 1913. Martin Scorsese's mother, Catherine Cappa, was born in about 1912.
Oh, I must've been about eight of nine until about twelve, or maybe thirteen. They're in some of the books about me, some of the Roman drawings. But the other ones I don't show. And some of the early ones I guess I threw away. But I would show them to this one friend of mine because he was a very sweet kid. He was sort of the intellectual of the group. And he would insist, "Marty, these don't move." I said, "They all move. See, from one frame to the other." "Oh, yeah, but the drawings are not moving." I said, "Why do you have to be literal about it?" But he was an avid read and he taught me to read, too. Read books. We'd go to the library together.
"What interested me," Scorsese told the BFI's Sight and Sound magazine, "was the story of a man, or a boy, who lives in a society which is totally based on the spirit and, finally crashing into the twentieth century they find themselves face to face with the most anti-spiritualist society ever formed, the Marxist government of the Chinese communists. Mao finally leans over at one point during the Dalai Lama's visit to Beijing and says to him 'You do know that religion is poison, don't you?' At this point he realizes that they are all finished. And the only way for him to save Tibet was to leave and take it all with him. What interests me is how a man of non-violence deals with these people--that's basically the story..."
It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the collaborations of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. Four of these eight films--Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and GoodFellas--are bona fide masterpieces. Each of these films has raised the bar for cinematic artistry and forever changed the landscape of American cinema. The latter three of these four have each been labeled by many critics as the defining films of the decades in which they were released. Even the so-called failures of this collaborative duo are remarkably well-crafted films that pushed the boundaries of their respective genres. Say what you will about the excesses of New York, New York, but surely we can all agree that this dark film is one of the most fascinating and superbly acted musicals ever produced. And as film historians and cineastes, how can we fail to recognize and appreciate the deliberately subdued work of both men on The King of Comedy?
"Raging Bull'' is the most painful and heartrending portrait of jealousy in the cinema--an ``Othello'' for our times. It's the best film I've seen about the low self-esteem, sexual inadequacy and fear that lead some men to abuse women. Boxing is the arena, not the subject. LaMotta was famous for refusing to be knocked down in the ring. There are scenes where he stands passively, his hands at his side, allowing himself to be hammered. We sense why he didn't go down. He hurt too much to allow the pain to stop.
Scorsese has said in the past that he would have shot classic films such as Taxi Driver and Raging Bull in 3D had modern stereoscopic technology been available at the time. He told the conference: "I would have practically done all my films in 3D."
"Taxi Driver" also happens to be a great movie, one of the few relatively recent films (like "The Godfather") to join the pantheon of popular classics and great American cinema. The story is about Vietnam veteran and loner Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), who takes a job as a cabdriver in New York City. He is drawn to—and disgusted by—the 42nd Street and Times Square world of weirdos, hookers and pornographic theaters. Every night, he transports lost souls from place to place in this Hades-like zone, while he fumes with fascination, disgust and unbearable solitude. His frustrated life takes a decisive turn when he meets—and fixes on—two women, two beacons of hope that he steers toward. One is icy uptown girl Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), who works for a presidential candidate, the other is Iris (Foster), a 12-year-old prostitute in bondage to her pimp, Sport (Harvey Keitel). When things don't turn out well with Betsy, Travis takes a course of action that changes everyone's lives forever.
''Goodfellas'' looks at the mob without making any apparent comment of its own. As it adopts the flat tone of Henry, its principal narrator, it also reflects Henry's jittery and driven concerns. It moves from sequence to sequence with slightly crazed speed, as if anticipating one of the cocaine highs that, finally, were to be Henry's undoing. Mr. Scorsese and Mr. Pileggi can't quite get the entire book onto the screen, but they succeed in preserving a remarkable number of the details.