Veteran Hollywood film-maker Martin Scorsese, who has found himself in hot waters following his criticism of Marvel films, has published an essay in The New York Times in an attempt to address and defend his statements.
The lengthy opinion piece, titled ‘I Said Marvel Movies Aren’t Cinema. Let Me Explain,’ touches upon a number of grievances that Scorsese has with modern cinema, from the absence of ‘revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger’ in today’s films to the issues of streaming online.
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“The fact that the films themselves don’t interest me is a matter of personal taste and temperament,” he writes, before diving into the reasoning for his personal dislike of the superhero genre. Citing Hitchcock and a number of other films, including The Steel Helmet by Sam Fuller, Persona by Ingmar Bergman, It’s Always Fair Weather by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, and Vivre Sa Vie by Jean-Luc Godard, etc., Scorsese explains how, for film-makers from his time, cinema was about revelation, characters and ‘‘confronting the unexpected on the screen".
According to him, “It dramatised and interpreted, enlarging the sense of what was possible in the art form.’’
Scorsese does give some credit to big films though, adding, “Many of the elements that define cinema as I know it are there in Marvel pictures.” But he clarified that this does not mean that they don’t lack in other important aspects. “The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes,” he continues.
The celebrated director, with films like Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, The Wolf of Wall Street and The Irishman under his belt, to name a few, holds a lot of weight in Hollywood. And for him to denounce powerful franchises at a time when they rake in the biggest revenues for the industry is a big deal.
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However, the very fact that franchises like Marvel pull in such big numbers at the box office seems to be Scorsese’s gravest concern through the length of his article. Talking about his latest release The Irishman streaming on Netflix, he writes, “It, and it alone, allowed us to make The Irishman the way we needed to, and for that, I’ll always be thankful,” before expressing his gripe from a theatrical aspect.
“Would I like the picture to play on more big screens for longer periods of time? Of course I would. But no matter whom you make your film with, the fact is that the screens in most multiplexes are crowded with franchise pictures.”
The complete article is a ride from start to end and if you’re a film buff, read it in its entirety.
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