The sublimation of the mafia in the cinema of Martin Scorsese, the son of Sicilians who wanted to be a cowboy | Television

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French film critic Yal Sadat was one of the experts who voted at the end of 2022 in the controversial list of the best films in the history of the British publication Sight & Sound which gave the winner to Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Brussels, by Chantal Akerman. He did not select the Belgian filmmaker among her 10 favorite titles. He placed first Taxi Driver (1976), by Martin Scorsese, ranked 29th. To channel his obsession with the New Yorker – he watched it five times in a row The Irishman (2019), which he considers a living testament—, decided to record a documentary, now available on Movistar Plus+, with the help of screenwriter Camille Juza titled Martin Scorsese: Italian-style Hollywood.

In addition to finding an excuse to spend two months endlessly revisiting his idol’s films, in this audiovisual essay he places the director of casino like the hero of the story. As if he were the protagonist of the America, America, by Elia Kazan. Scorsese has told through many of the characters in his films the story of immigration to the United States, which is that of his parents. The boy of Sicilian descent who grew up with his family in the Little Italy neighborhood, in love with the westerns and historical Hollywood blockbusters, he became a man who has not stopped exploring his origins on screen.

“His cinema is a search for himself and a way of defining himself in his permanent dualities. It is especially noticeable in its beginnings. He asked himself: should I be the new John Ford or the new Rossellini? Am I a Hollywood filmmaker or one from New York?,” Sadat comments to this newspaper in mid-January in Paris, where he presents this documentary.

Sadat takes advantage of how accessible the filmmaker was to the press in his early days to collect many of his testimonies. And he also benefits from Scorsese’s own documentary drive. Italianamerican (1974) showed viewers the community to which his family belonged through the daily lives of his parents, Catherine and Charles. They chat together around the table and the stove at a time when “the distance between Little Italy and the rest of the world was enormous,” Sadat remembers.

Martin Scorsese: Italian-style Hollywood It shows a man who always manages between two worlds and that prompts the Frenchman to reflect more broadly on “what it means to question identity on an existential level.”

Martin Scorsese and Liza Minelli, during the filming of ‘New York, New York’ (1977)

“That reflection is what makes Scorsese’s films more than just examples of good cinema: it adds several layers of depth to them. He is always wondering through them who he really is. Even his genre films have a sociological vision and an existential doubt. In a way they are political, by somehow including in them the disadvantages that his friends from his childhood neighborhood faced,” defends the film critic.

In his university days Scorsese became intimate with another aspiring director with whom he shared roots: Francis Ford Coppola. He helped him enter the industry and together they formed a small company with Brian de Palma. lobby creative. “But Scorsese wanted to do things so different that he even filmed a musical that was a tribute to a classic from the fifties, New York New York. At the time, no one went to see it in theaters and it made critics rave about it,” Sadat recalls.

As for all those autobiographical nods, Scorsese was very faithful to what his life had been when it was reflected in some of his child characters, but, with adult characters, he preferred to play at sublimation and imagine what other ways it could have been. his life. “In the assembly we realized those differences. He sometimes identifies with the talkative, cocky and even violent Joe Pesci in One of ours. It is as if he were playing to imagine what his destiny would have been like if he had not dedicated himself to cinema,” he comments.

Precisely, One of ours It was for Sadat the turning point with which Scorsese managed to unite his two film identities, the most commercial and the most authorial. “It happened almost by accident, you can say. It was a mix of bad streets and The color of money. It is almost the metaphor of that American dream and the more capitalist United States that he had dealt with so many times through the mafia. The wolf of Wall Streetwhich in a way is also a gangster film and deals with similar themes, shows that the intentions of his cinema have not changed so much, only that now he does so by resorting to a language closer to that of great Hollywood, in the style of John Ford. than that of Cassavetes.”

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