Cowan Jenkins Period 5
Raging Bully: Scorsese and Violence
The most renowned filmmaker of his era, Martin Scorsese virtually defined the state of modern American cinema during the nineteen seventies and eighties. 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 seventies as a towering figure throughout the industry, achieving the kind of fame and universal recognition typically reserved for more commercially successful talents. A tireless supporter of film preservation, "Scorsese has worked to bridge the gap between cinema's history and future like no other director." (Rottentomatoes.com) Channeling the lessons of his inspirations primarily classic Hollywood, the French New Wave, and the New York underground movement of the early nineteen sixties into an extraordinarily personal and singular vision, he has remained perennially positioned at the vanguard of the medium, always pushing the envelope of the film experience with an intensity and courage unmatched by any of his contemporaries.
The films of his I am most interested in are: Hugo, The Departed, Raging Bull and Goodfellas. Besides the charming tale of Hugo, all of these films have something in common, extreme violence. Scorsese seems to have worked largely in the medium of violence for most of his career. However, unlike a blockbuster director such as Michael Bay, he doesn't use violence to draw crowds in with explosions. Scorsese uses violence to portray cultural feelings and to show the hardships of many of the characters in his movies. He uses themes such as Roman Catholic guilt, machismo and gang violence.
I believe what drives Scorsese and his films is the want to show how violence exists. He wants to show the emotions and complicated scenarios in which violence arises.
Scorsese's career breaks down into three successive phases. Scorsese lept on to the Hollywood scene in 1973 with the film mean streets, a gritty crime drama. It was hailed with critical appeal, but little commercial success. Unfortunately, this period is also associated with his addiction to cocaine in the late 70's. "I was always angry, throwing glasses, provoking people, really unpleasant to be around," he recalls. "I always found, no matter what anybody said, something to take offense at." (Sotinel, 70) His films during the time reflected that, with the violent Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980) earning him more critical acclaim despite protest from moviegoers about the violent nature of the films.
Scorsese then transitioned into a middle period of his career. Scorsese's next project was his
fifth collaboration with Robert De Niro, The King of Comedy (1983). A satire on the world of media and celebrity, it was an obvious departure from the m...