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Films: How Does Martin Scorsese DO It?

Updated on July 19, 2017



Highlighting Seven of His Movies

They hit the mark, they compel you to watch. Many of his movies are visually grating and gloriously colorized. His character development is one of the best in film history.

He is able to show you the deep despair of the soul and the courage during almost insurmountable odds. Sometimes it appears like pageantry steeped in a realistic coating. Sometimes it teeters on the edge of over-saturated opera.You might think, yes its good cinema. But why when I'm surfing through channels, does my finger freeze and I MUST watch the scene that is just about to appear?

This article is not about the person and his life, all of which are a fascinating study. I will concentrate on the pure enjoyment of seeing his films and why I can't look away. My movie examples will be ones my husband and I find irresistible to watch.I've collected Amazon movie purchase and rental information here for your convenience. This article cannot be copied without permission, all rights reserved.

First image: Jack Nicholson depicting a notorious crime boss based upon the real life Whitey Bulger in The Departed.

Raging Bull 1980

Raging Bull [Blu-ray]
Raging Bull [Blu-ray]

Nominated for 8 Oscars. Now considered one of the greatest films in cinema history- the story depicts a boxer's rise in the rings along with the utter destruction of everything else in his life.


Scorsese: The Movie-Maker

Scorsese is a maker of both blockbuster movies you sit and eat popcorn for and the maker of fine art film. Most often they are the same movie.Part of his expertise is his approach. He writes, directs, produces and even has acted. He is skilled at picking a successful team to build a film. He also likes to find someone he works well with (like Leonardo DiCaprio) and then works with them on more than one film.

Many of Scorses's films are flushed with violence. They are almost always inline with the story but some might think they are too graphic.

What's most interesting is that these characters are true to life. There are real people that live these lives, surrounded in violence and death. They carve an existence, almost like an animal surviving by brute strength, cunning and with love that turns painful.

My Interview with a Scorsese Fan

If my husband finds a Scorsese film on TV, he will almost always keep it on even if its in the background while doing something else.I interviewed my husband, a big Scorsese fan, to find out more about how Scorsese does this so well. His comments here are paraphrased. I also call him Mark (not his real name).

Me: When someone says Scorsese, what comes to mind?

Mark: A smart film director, artist and scholar with lots of integrity. He's studied filmmaking intently and created new techniques of the art. He knows the rules well and knows when to break them.

Me: Why do you enjoy his films so much?

Mark: They are crafted well with no gratuitous violence.

Me:What makes you stop while channel surfing and watch a Scorsese film?

Mark: The film is always rich and well written. Always good acting and dialog. It carries many levels along with being entertaining. There's always something deeper happening.

The Departed 2006

Timely movie, now that Whitey Bulger is finally behind bars. The way these people balance regular living with overt violence and murder is astounding. Stellar performances by almost everyone.

The Departed 2006

The Departed [Blu-ray]
The Departed [Blu-ray]

Timely movie, now that Whitey Bulger is finally behind bars. The way these people balance regular living with overt violence and murder is astounding. Stellar performances by almost everyone.


Scorsese Films and Violence - As usual, I can see both sides.

Despite how well made, do his films concentrate too much on violent characters? Which sentence do you agree with? You can tell me in the comments section if you'd like.

Scorsese is a genius that chooses to show a world we might not always want to see. He does it brilliantly.


He is good at the craft of filmmaking but the excessive violence just makes violence more acceptable in society.

Raging Bull Trailer

Good Fellas 1990

The narration by the main character in this film carries you through his life moving up in the ranks of organized crime. Amazing acting and storytelling.

Casino Trailer

Casino 1995

When this film is on television, we almost always stop what we're doing to watch some scenes. A world of gambling, crime and drugs has its way with the main characters.

Gangs of New York Trailer

Gangs of New York 2002

Because I'm interested in American period pieces, I love watching this film despite the violence. Daniel Day Lewis as Bill the Butcher is astounding. This movie subject is about the little-remembered gangs in New York City during the mid 1800's.

The Departed Trailer

Shutter Island Trailer

Shutter Island 2010

My husband encouraged me to watch this movie late one night. I thought," I'm not in the mood for this," but when he told me it was a Murder Mystery, that caught me. The twists and turns are well executed and Scorsese brings you right up to the precipice of the yawning abyss of emotion during the last five minutes.

Hugo 2011

Beautifully crafted rendition of the book, thoroughly enjoyable for adults and children. And yes, it's another period piece which I love. This is Scorsese's tip of the hat to the real French filmmaker Georges Melies.

Have I Hit the Mark? - Let me know.

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    • Kim Milai profile image

      Kim Milai 4 years ago

      @DuaneJ: Absolutely!!

    • DuaneJ profile image

      DuaneJ 4 years ago

      There's no one like Scorsese!

    • Kim Milai profile image

      Kim Milai 4 years ago

      @othellos: Thank you so much. It means a lot that you enjoyed reading it.

    • profile image

      othellos 4 years ago

      Excellent lens. The Departed is my favorite but I am a great fun of Scorsese anyway. Really beautiful lens with lots of interesting content.

    • Kim Milai profile image

      Kim Milai 4 years ago

      @Mary Crowther: Thank you so much. Shutter Island was so good I stayed up late to watch it. He is an amazing storyteller.

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 4 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Really enjoyed this lens, great job! Shutter Island was my favorite Scorsese film.