History of the United States through the eyes of Martin Scorsese

In a traditional Sicilian family, Martin Scorsese was born in 1942 in Queens, New York. He has been in the world of cinema early in his life, given that his two parents were actors. Being asthmatic, he hasn’t been able to practice any sports, so instead of this, his parents take him to the cinema very often. He fell in love with the cinema of John Ford, Hitchcock, and Orson Welles. Later he decided to go to an art university to study cinema. His first success was Mean Streets in 1973, which was also the occasion for him to meet Robert DeNiro. In 1976, he won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film festival with one of his masterpieces, Taxi Driver. After this, his carrier is launched.


Martin Scorsese is well known for movies like Casino, Goodfellas, or Mean Streets because he is the only one to master a particular type of movie. Still, he also made different films like The Wolf of Wall Street or Shutter Island, which are not in this Italian New York style like as usual.

Being asthmatic, he wasn’t sociable during his childhood, and that is also a character trait that we can feel in his movies, just like in Taxi Driver. We can quickly notice that Scorsese likes to cast extraordinary actors. He uses a range of actors that appears in most of his movies. The two principal ones are Robert DeNiro, who played in nine films directed by Martin Scorsese. Leonardo Dicaprio, who played in five of his movies, and Harvey Keitel. He also encourages his actors to stand out from the text to create moments of improvisation, which became classic scenes from contemporary cinema. The famous DeNiro’s “You talkin’ to me?” in front of his mirror in Taxi Driver or Joe Pesci challenging Ray Liotta in Goodfellas is one of the best examples.

So as we said, Martin Scorsese is known for movies about Italian people living in New York. But it’s generally about immigrants in the United States, Irishmen, Jewish, and Italians. His more popular films are often about Italian mobs, gangs, or thugs. Scorsese’s movies follow the history of European immigrants in the United States. Starting with Gangs of New York exemplifies the fights between Americans and Irish immigrants during the 19th century. Casino, explaining how the Eastern Italian mafia took control of Las Vegas. Or even The Irishman about the vital link between Jimmy Hoffa and the Italian mafia. Scorsese gets his inspiration from his childhood in the Queens. He is accurate about these topics because he grew up in this ambiance, so he knows what he is talking about. That’s also why his films are so realistic. Martin wants his movies to be violent and sometimes even brutal to watch. It shows the truth without filters. Martins Scorsese’s cinematography represents well the story of immigration in the United States, primarily how it evolved in New York between the 50s and the 60s.

Joaquim Renaud

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