ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why You Should Watch A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese

Updated on April 22, 2011

Directed by Martin Scorsese and Michael Henry Wilson

Runtime: 225 min. (in 3 parts)

A few weeks ago, I sat down to watch A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese through American Movies. At nearly 4 hours long, the demand on a viewer's time might seem more than what the material is worth, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Scorsese lives and breathes cinema, and that zeal comes across as in no other "movie about movies" that I've seen before. I've since watched it again, not simply because of the wealth of information Scorsese presents in the time he has, but also because of the simplicity of passion with which he does so.

It is essential to understand that this is not a self important retrospective of how "hallmark" films have changed the collective cultural milieu, but rather simply one man telling his audience how certain films have changed him and shaped his cinematic sensibilities. This is about a great filmmaker and film lover's heritage.

“I can only talk to you about what has moved me”, Scorsese tells us, “films that prompted me, for better or worse, to become a filmmaker myself”. As such, he begins his narrative in 1946 when, as a four year old, he first saw the King Vidor western Duel in the Sun. While being a “flawed” film, Scorsese describes the origins of his passion: he was entranced by the “hallucinatory quality of the imagery”. 

The obsession only grew in Scorsese, as is apparent in his recollections of meaningful cinematic moments. He takes us from the earliest stages in silent film all the way to 2001 and beyond. As if in a stream of consciousness, he goes from D. W. Griffith's The Musketeers of Pig Alley to the proliferation of special effects in the early 1990s. However, it is not simply a history lesson that Scorsese means to deliver, but rather a sense of how American cinema has lived and grown.

D. W. Griffith's The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912)
D. W. Griffith's The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912)
Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey
Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey
Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner in The Bad and The Beautiful
Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner in The Bad and The Beautiful
Simone Simon in Cat People
Simone Simon in Cat People

He outlines what great filmmakers have been to him. The Illusionist is a magician, a technical master of the cinematic art. This is found in Vincent Minnelli's work; The Bad and The Beautiful is shown as a marriage of compelling story and expert choreography. The Smuggler revels in the lack oversight of low budget films. For this set, he gives Jacques Tourneur and his B-movie, Cat People, as an example of how a story about a woman's sexual repression can be found in a horror film and slipped under the censors' noses. Finally, The Iconoclast took the opposite approach as The Smuggler and attacked conventions head on. Elia Kazan is used as an example of a filmmaker who imbued his characters with overt sexuality, as seen in A Streetcar Named Desire, which was a direct assault on the Hayes production code of the early 1950s. Scorsese later describes Kazan's On The Waterfront as a personal breakthrough for him, and a film that broke ground for the iconoclasts of the following decades.

You can tell that the films Scorsese speaks about so fondly are not only inspirational, but are indeed directly influential. The color palate from the 1930s Technicolor process bleeds through onto his films like The Aviator, and influences ranging from Edwin S. Porter's The Great Train Robbery and the gangster films from Howard Hawkes can easily be seen in Goodfellas. It's clear that these films have been Scorsese's film school, and the lessons he has learned have been well applied.

The Great Train Robbery
The Great Train Robbery

Finally, after nearly 4 hours, Scorsese simply tells us, “we're gonna have to stop because I can't go on... we just don't have the time. There's really no telling how long the tour of this “imaginary museum” can go on. However, what was captivating for me was not necessarily being entranced by a living encyclopedia of cinema, but rather having some of Scorsese's passion transplanted into me afterward. The film leaves you with the desire to seek out the films that Scorsese has spoken so highly about, not only to see what he saw, but also to add to your own “personal journey” through cinema. For my part, tracking down copies of The Bad and The Beautiful and being introduced to Anthony Mann's psychological westerns, just to name a few examples, have been infinitely rewarding. 

So, if you're a film lover or just a fan of Scorsese, I can't recommend this documentary highly enough. Buy it, Netflix it, do what you have to; set some time aside and let Scorsese's passion and eloquence wash over you as you take this near spiritual journey with him to “share a common memory”.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Cogerson profile image

      UltimateMovieRankings 

      7 years ago from Virginia

      Sounds like a journey well worth taking...thanks for posting this interesting and informative hub..voted up

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)