Martin Scorsese turns 75 on Friday – Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
CAIRO – 17 November 2017: One of the most important filmmakers of the century, Scorsese has done as much for movies as the invention of electricity has done for mankind. His films have changed the way movies are shot and influenced countless filmmakers. On his 75th, Egypt Today takes a look at his masterpiece-studded career.
Scorsese was born in New York even though his family hailed from Italy, a heritage which Scorsese made sure to incorporate in his films. His parents both worked in cinema, planting the seeds for their son’s eventual passion for filmmaking.
Another factor that led Scorsese to direct was his sickly constitution as a child, which led him to spend most of his time indoors watching movies and drawing his own storyboards as early as eight. After an unsuccessful attempt at entering the Roman Catholic priesthood in the early 1960s, Scorsese decided that cinema was the path for him.
A 10-minute short film he directed helped Scorsese win a $500 scholarship to the New York University, where he would graduate in 1966. A year later, he came out with his first film in theatres, titled “Who’s That Knocking at My Door”. Right from the start, Scorsese’s plots were unflinching; the storyline of his film dealt with a devoutly Catholic Italian-American man who marries a woman he later learns was once raped, a fact that he cannot deal with. The film was well-received amongst critics, paving his way to become the legendary director that he is today.
In 1973, Scorsese would release “Mean Streets”, which would receive immense critical praise and cement the upcoming director as a truly revolutionary new talent.
“Mean Streets” (1973)
The film that kickstarted Scorsese’s career, “Mean Streets” was also the beginning of Scorsese’s alliance with Robert De Niro, who would star in some of the director’s greatest films. The film follows Charlie (Harvey Keital) as he aims to rise from being a small-time crook into the ranks of the mafia. Soon, facing a dilemma between the world of crime and those he loves.
“Taxi Driver” (1976)
While his previous films were critically received, it took until “Taxi Driver” for the public to learn about Scorsese and his immense gift for movies, which also served to be their introduction to De Niro’s talents. Here De Niro plays a Vietnam veteran turned taxi driver, who embarks on a brutal, violent vigilante quest to help rescue a young prostitute, played by Jodie Foster. This film was nominated for four Oscar awards, and is still talked about to this day, well over 40 years on.
“Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” (1978)
This film served as a more feminine detour from Scorsese’s usual, but features his excellent directorial touch. Ellen Burstyn plays Alice Hyatt, a young woman who recently loses her husband in a traffic accident. She takes to the road with her young son in an effort to move back to her home in California. Jodie Foster and Harvey Keital also star once again under Scorsese’s directorship.
“Raging Bull” (1980)
With De Niro in the lead once more, Scorsese this time casts him in this biopic as boxer Jake LaMotta, a brutal man with a violent temper that helps him out in the ring but only serves to destroy his life out of it. ”Raging Bull” won two Oscar awards, with De Niro attaining Best Actor in a Leading Role and Scorsese's long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker winning the Best Film Editing award.
“The King of Comedy”(1982)
Robert De Niro suggested that Scorsese try his hand at something different; comedy. In this dark satire film, De Niro plays Rupert Pupkin, an aspiring comedic who harbors an obsession with his idol Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis). After being rejected the first time, Pupkin is driven to stalking and eventually kidnapping him; finally getting the gig he wanted.
“The Last Temptation of Christ”(1988)
Scorsese taps into his spiritual side for this epic recounting of the life of Jesus Christ, played by William DaFoe. The film follows Jesus Christ as he faces the trials and tribulations in his life that eventually lead to his final punishment on the cross, where he bears the sins of all mankind. Scorsese received an Oscar nomination for Best Director.
“Gangs of New York” (2002)
Turning back the clock on the city he loves so much, Scorsese takes a look at the brutal and violent history of New York in 1863, where gang warfare erupts across the city as they aim to take control. Starring Daniel Day Lewis, Cameron Diaz and Liam Neeson, the film marked the beginning of a rich and successful partnership with