Culture

Scorsese: Cinema is not dying, it is transforming

"It was never meant to be one thing, single and unchanging", said Martin Scorsese at the "Berlinale", where he was honored with the "Golden Bear" for life's work. "Maybe the movie theater used to be a thing," he explained. Today, with rapidly developing technologies, the platforms for cinema are changing, but the director thinks we can still keep one thing: the "individual voice". "The individual voice, I must say, can be expressed on TikTok or in a four-hour film or in a miniseries," he said. "I don't think we should let technology scare us. Simply, it should be directed in the right direction", he said, adding that personal visions should be allowed to appear and not just "something that is consumed and thrown away".

"Describe Martin Scorsese in one word", was the question that was asked by a journalist at the International Film Festival in Berlin, the director and producer answered simply: "It is a mystery".

If there's one thing that needs to be said, it's that Scorsese is without a doubt a monument in film history.

The 81-year-old director and producer has already been honored with a number of lifetime achievement awards, including that of the Berlin International Film Festival, "Berlinale", which honors him with the "Golden Bear" for lifetime achievement.

The director is also committed to film preservation and is an ardent promoter of restored and classic cinema. This passion was also felt at the press conference held on Tuesday, before the awards ceremony, as he discussed at length works from all eras and parts of the world.

But another reporter asked how he rates his influence on other filmmakers?

When he was younger, Scorsese replied that he "was full of ambition and ego" — joking in the next sentence that he probably never lost those character traits. But, he added: "I try, because sometimes it gets in my way."

Since 1967, Scorsese has made 26 feature films and many other documentaries.

His latest work, Killers of the Flower Moon, focuses on the systematic killing of members of the Osage community for their oil-rich land by white settlers in the 1920s, a story based on historical facts.

The film received ten Oscar nominations, including one for Lily Gladstone, who became the first Native American to be nominated for an Oscar.

But along with the accolades, Scorsese is no stranger to controversy over his films.

Here are five of the film controversies that are also part of Martin Scorsese's incredible legacy.

It has often been accused of glorifying violence: The director has identified his activity with themes such as: macho attitudes, bloody violence and "Catholic guilt" - in the early stages of his career.

The graphic violence in "Taxi Driver" (1976) and the fact that the then 12-year-old Jodie Foster took on the role of a child prostitute resulted in the assessment as a controversial work, calling into question this masterpiece that won the "Palme d'Or".

Contributing to the film's infamous reputation was the protagonist, who portrayed a delusional obsession developed by a man named John Hinckley Jr., who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981 because he wanted to "try to 'impressed Jodie Foster'.

For some critics, Scorsese should condemn the behavior of his protagonists more directly in his films.

But Scorsese finds such moralistic stances "beyond boring," as he recently said in a discussion with Timothee Chalamet for "GQ," referring to the reaction to "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013) a decade ago. The film was also accused of "glorifying psychopathic behavior" at the time of its release.

"The Last Temptation of Christ" and accusations of blasphemy: Before discovering his passion for cinema, Scorsese originally planned to become a priest, and he still identifies as Catholic. He explored issues of faith in many of his films, but The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) was the one that most angered conservative Catholics. The film includes a sequence where Jesus (played by Willem Dafoe) has sex with Mary Magdalene.

Screenings of the film were accompanied by protests; the film was banned in various countries, including Argentina, the birthplace of Pope Francis. Meanwhile, relations between the Vatican and the provocative Catholic director seem to have thawed. After a screening of the film "Silence" in 2016 in Rome, about the persecution of Jesuit Christians in XNUMXth century Japan, where Scorsese had his first meeting with the Pope.

Earlier this year Scorsese announced that he was planning another film about Christ, based on the novel "A Life of Jesus".

He has made enemies of the fans of the "Marvel" Cinematic Universe: In a 2019 interview with Empire magazine, Scorsese stated that he did not consider Marvel's superhero movies to be cinematic productions. He compared them to "amusement parks" and argued that they lacked the emotional and psychological depth he associated with true cinema. The directors and stars of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were called in to react to his comments and defend the mega-franchise.

This topic has turned into an endless debate between him and the fans of "Marvel" superheroes.

Its expensive partnership with Netflix raised eyebrows — and we shouldn't fear TikTok: Even Scorsese himself has agreed that the film industry needs to change. While he once claimed that streaming services were "devaluing" cinema by reducing movies to "content," he later teamed up with Netflix for The Irishman (2019), his film with Robert de Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. The director explained that no one else in Hollywood was willing to pay for the production, which featured pioneering and expensive rejuvenation technology. The budget of this film was estimated to be up to 250 million dollars. Despite what people might conclude from his statements, Scorsese does not believe that cinema is dying: “It's transforming. It was never meant to be one thing, single and unchanging," he said at the Berlin Film Festival. Maybe the movie theater used to be a thing, he explained. Today, with rapidly developing technologies, platforms for cinema are changing, but the director thinks we can still keep one thing: "The individual voice".

"The individual voice, I must say, can be expressed on TikTok or in a four-hour film or a miniseries," he said. "I don't think we should let technology scare us. It just needs to be directed in the direction of right", he said, adding that personal visions should be allowed to appear and not just "something that is consumed and thrown away". "What is fashionable dies within a day", emphasized the famous director.

He is accused of making movies that lack characters that portray strong women: This debate has been present throughout his career, but it was reignited after the release of "The Irishman", where the characters spoke only a few words in the three and a half hour long film. But a deeper dive into his films reveals that the influential director has also directed works with strong actresses and offered more nuanced portrayals of women, including Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) and The Age of Innocence" (1993), or his last series on "Netflix" with the icon of New York, Fran Lebowitz.

The director describes his work as an exploration of humanity that has little to do with gender division, as he emphasized in a recent interview with "The Guardian": "I try to find who we are as human beings, as an organism, from to whom our hearts are made".

Taken from "Deutsche Welle". Translated by: Enis Bytyqi