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Quotes / Martin Scorsese

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Quotes by Scorsese

General

"There's no sense in making another gangster picture, unless it is as close as possible to a certain kind of reality, to the spirit of documentary."

"Very often the people I portray can't help but be in that way of life. They're bad and they're doing bad things. And we condemn those aspects of them. But they're also human beings. I find that often the people passing moral judgment on them may ultimately be worse. I know there were people who felt I was morally irresponsible to make a film like GoodFellas. Well, I'll make more of them if I can. Remember what happens at the end of Casino, where you see Nicky and his brother beaten and buried...Nicky is horrible. He's a terrible man. But there's something that happens to me watching them get beaten with the bats and then put into the hole. Ultimately it's a tragedy. It's the frailty of being human. I want to push audiences' emotional empathy with certain types of characters who are normally considered villains...It's an interesting dilemma for Sam and Nicky. They both buy into a situation and both overstep the line so badly that they destroy everything for everybody. And eventually a whole new city comes rising out of the ashes of what they've destroyed. Who knows the reality of Las Vegas now? Who knows where the money's going? But I'm sure it's got to be worth it, somehow, for those entrepreneurs to come in with the money. You'll probably see a film in fifteen years exposing what they're doing now."
Scorsese on Scorsese Page 202-203, 1996 Edition, unintentionally Foreshadowing The Wolf of Wall Street.

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"[I] grew up near the Bowery, seeing the homeless and the drunks at close quarters, and finding them quite scary. There was always a problem for me with the doctrine of Christianity about love and compassion, and then being told by my family not to go near some of these people because they'll kill you. It was pretty dangerous, and even when some of them sobered up for a while, they'd go back to drinking. But there is a tendency in our society, which got worse during the 80s and 90s, to push aside any suffering and pretend it doesn't affect us. We should just be free to accumulate more and more, and become even richer."
Scorsese on Scorsese Page 231.

"If you look at the films made between Raoul Walsh's Regeneration in 1915, Me and My Gal (1932) and Sergeant Madden (1939), the recent immigrants are always Irish...And, in fact, the representation of the Italian-American experience in movies is actually quite recent. I remember when I showed some of Mean Streets in he late 60s to my old teacher at NYU...his response was: who are these people? and who would want to see this kind of thing?"
Scorsese on Scorsese Page 266.

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I wanted to do a valentine to Hollywood.But update it, update it to the point where you have the look and feel of an old Hollywood film that grows in time, and each time, each date, it would look like a film of that period. It would look like a film of 1947, then it would look like a film of 1950. This was done through sets, costumes, hair and makeup. Everything was exaggerated. Shoulder pads were an inch biiger inside, and the ties were made even wider. Giorgio Armani said that he studied the costumes and decided to make clothes, "like New York, New York."
Martin Scorsese: A Journey, Page 102-103

Do one for them; do one for you. If you can still do projects for yourself, you can keep your soul.
Martin Scorsese: A Journey

I've always loved history. I love looking at paintings, and I love going to the San Clemente Church in Rome, where you can see seven or eight levels of different churches all built on top of each other, with the temple of Mithras down at the bottom. In a way, I think cinema is like this: different levels get added, without most people knowing or caring about what came earlier. But we want to be able to dig down and tell the story for those who want to know it.
Scorsese on Scorsese, Page 270.

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There is only one Spielberg, only one Lucas, and I think what happened there is that they all ran to that group. It's not the film-maker's fault. It's those who want to cash in on that and use that as a gauge on what should be a success in Hollywood.
A Decade Under the Influence.

On other film-makers

"I'm torn between admiring things done in one shot, like Max Ophuls and Renoir or Mizoguchi on the one hand, and the cutting of Eisenstein or Hitchcock on the other, which I probably love even more."

American, British and Italian cinema were the three vital influences on my first fifteen years or so of seeing films.

"I like October a great deal and I run it often. Leaving aside the propaganda elements, I just love Eisenstein's framing and the whole structure of the film. By comparison, I haven't been as influenced by the seamless kind of film-making of Ford or Hawks or Wyler, but I see in those films more the relationship of the actors as a family. So, for instance, the scene with my mother and Joe Pesci and Bob De Niro and Ray Liotta in Goodfellas comes right out of Hawks or Ford. It's not just a matter of shooting it in the same way, you have to feel it as a gathering, with the warmth of the personalities and relationships, all around the table."
Scorsese on Scorsese Page 218.

"I went with a friend of mine...to see The Apu Trilogy one day at the Carnegie Hall Cinema...Ray holds his images, but he also does some editing that's very powerful, like when the father dies in Aparijito, his head hits the stone and he birds fly; and there are moments like that throughout his movies. But above all it was just being with the people in these films that was great."
Scorsese on Scorsese, Page 220, on Satyajit Ray

"Accattone and Before the Revolution were the two new Italian films that I saw in the mid-60s at the New York Film Fesival which really hit me and pushed me into my own film-making...I understood these people [in Accattone], because they were like those I grew up with. Stealing the gold chain from the child's neck was totally understandable to me, as was the pimp cursed and reviled like Chris. And seeing Before the Revolution about twenty times fed into the making of my own film...These films, however different from each other, were so exciting at the time."
Scorsese on Scorsese, Page 247.

Roger Ebert: Do you think as people grow older, they grow more socially conservative?
Martin Scorsese: "Not the old people I'm thinking of, the old directors like Sam Fuller or Michael Powell. They speak exactly what's on their mind, as if they're aware that they don't have any time to waste."

"Quite often, when people discuss the cinema, they talk about single images. The baby carriage rolling down the Odessa Steps in Battleship Potemkin, for instance. Peter O'Toole blowing out the match in Lawrence of Arabia. John Wayne lifting Natalie Wood in his arms near the end of The Searchers. The blood gushing from the elevator in The Shining. The exploding oil derrick in There Will Be Blood. These are all absolutely extraordinary passages in the history of our art form. Extraordinary images, to be sure. But what happens when you take these images away from those that come before and after? What happens when you lift them out of the worlds to which they belong? You’re left with records of craftsmanship and care, but something essential is lost...The same goes for each of the examples I’ve mentioned above, all of which have been excerpted in countless clip reels. As artfully put together as some of those reels are, I find them disconcerting, because they usually amount to a series of official “great moments” pulled away from their contexts...beyond that, each separate cinematic image is comprised of a succession of still frames that creates the impression of motion. They are recordings of instants in time. But the moment you put them together, something else happens. Every time I get back into the editing room, I feel the wonder of it. One image is joined with another image, and a third phantom event happens in the mind’s eye –- perhaps an image, perhaps a thought, perhaps a sensation. Something occurs, something absolutely unique to this particular combination or collision of moving images...It’s a wonder to me, and I’m far from alone. Sergei Eisenstein talked about it on a theoretical level, and the Czech filmmaker František Vlácil discusses it in an interview included on the Criterion edition of his great medieval epic Marketa Lazarová (1967) ... It is, I think, fundamental to the art of cinema. This is where the act of creation meets the act of viewing and engaging, where the common life of the filmmaker and the viewer exists, in those intervals of time between the filmed images that last a fraction of a fraction of a second but that can be vast and endless. This is where a good film comes alive as something more than a succession of beautifully composed renderings of a script. This is film-making. Does this “phantom image” exist for casual viewers without an awareness of how films are put together? I believe it does. I don’t know how to read music and neither do most people I know, but we all “feel” the progression from one chord to another in music that affects us, and by implication some kind of awareness that a different progression would be a different experience.
[...]
First of all, it seems to me that we all want to surrender ourselves to art, to live within a given film or painting or dance. The question of how an artwork is absorbed in time, whether we’re standing before it in a gallery for a matter of minutes, reading it over a matter of weeks, or sitting in a dark theatre and watching it projected on a screen for two hours, is simply a condition, a circumstance, a fact ... The greatest filmmakers, like the greatest novelists and poets, are trying to create a sense of communion with the viewer. They’re not trying to seduce them or overtake them, but, I think, to engage with them on as intimate a level as possible. The viewer also "collaborates" with the filmmaker, or the painter. No two viewings of Raphael’s “Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints” will be the same: every new viewing will be different. The same is true of readings of The Divine Comedy or Middlemarch, or viewings of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp or Film/2001ASpaceOdyssey. We return at different moments in our lives and we see things differently.

Quotes about Scorsese

"Cuz he makes the best fuckin' films
He makes the best fuckin' films
I've ever seen in my life
I fuckin' love him, I fuckin' love him
"The
King Missile, "Martin Scorsese"
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