Martin Scors­ese, 'Cin­ema is gone'

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Martin Scors­ese's Man­hat­tan of­fice, in a mid­town build­ing a few blocks north­west of the cor­doned-off Trump Tower, may be the most con­cen­trated bas­tion of rev­er­ence for cin­ema on the face of the earth. There's a small screen­ing room where Scors­ese screens early cuts of his films and clas­sic movies for his daugh­ter and his friends. There's his per­sonal li­brary of thou­sands of films, some he taped him­self decades ago. Film posters line the walls. Book­shelves are stuffed with film his­to­ries. And there are edit­ing suites, in­clud­ing the one where Scors­ese and his long­time ed­i­tor Thelma Schoon­maker reg­u­larly toil with a mon­i­tor ded­i­cated to the con­tin­u­ous, muted play­ing of Turner Clas­sic Movies.

"It's a tem­ple of wor­ship, re­ally," says Schoon­maker. Scors­ese's lat­est, "Si­lence," may be the film that most purely fuses the twin pas­sions of his life: God and cin­ema. Scors­ese, who briefly pur­sued be­com­ing a priest be­fore fer­vently ded­i­cat­ing him­self to moviemak­ing, has some­times seemed to con­flate the two. "Si­lence" is a solemn, re­li­gious epic about Je­suit pri­ests (An­drew Garfield, Adam Driver) in a violently anti-Catholic 17th cen­tury Ja­pan. Scors­ese has wanted to make it for nearly 30 years.

He was given the book it's based on, Shusaku Endo's 1966 novel, by a bishop af­ter a screen­ing of his fa­mously con­tro­ver­sial "The Last Temp­ta­tion of Christ" in 1988. "Si­lence" is an ex­am­i­na­tion of be­lief and doubt and mys­te­ri­ous acts of faith. But mak­ing the film was such an act in it­self. "Act­ing it out, maybe that's what ex­is­tence is all about," Scors­ese says of his faith. "The doc­u­men­tary on Ge­orge Har­ri­son I made, 'Liv­ing in the Ma­te­rial World,' that says it bet­ter. He said if you want an old man in the sky with a beard, fine. I don't mean to be rel­a­tivist about it.

'Si­lence'

I hap­pen to feel more com­fort­able with Chris­tian­ity. But what is Chris­tian­ity? That's the is­sue and that's why I made this film." It wasn't easy. Scors­ese, 74, may be among the most rev­ered di­rec­tors in Hol­ly­wood, but "Si­lence" is al­most the an­tithe­sis of to­day's stu­dio film. To make it Scors­ese had to drum up for­eign money in Cannes and ul­ti­mately made the film for about $46 mil­lion. Ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing him­self, worked for scale. Few to­day are mak­ing movies with the scope and am­bi­tion of "Si­lence" - a fact, he grants, that makes him feel like one of the last of a dy­ing breed in to­day's film in­dus­try.

"Cin­ema is gone," Scors­ese says. "The cin­ema I grew up with and that I'm mak­ing, it's gone." "The the­ater will al­ways be there for that com­mu­nal ex­pe­ri­ence, there's no doubt. But what kind of ex­pe­ri­ence is it go­ing to be?" he con­tin­ues. "Is it al­ways go­ing to be a theme-park movie? I sound like an old man, which I am. The big screen for us in the '50s, you go from West­erns to 'Lawrence of Ara­bia' to the spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence of '2001' in 1968. The ex­pe­ri­ence of see­ing 'Ver­tigo' and 'The Searchers' in Vis­taVi­sion."

Scors­ese points to the pro­lif­er­a­tion of images and the over­re­liance on su­per­fi­cial tech­niques as trends that have di­min­ished the power of cin­ema to younger au­di­ences. "It should mat­ter to your life," he says. "Un­for­tu­nately the lat­est gen­er­a­tions don't know that it mat­tered so much." Scors­ese's com­ments echo a ten­der let­ter he wrote his daugh­ter two years ago . The fu­ture of movies, he be­lieves, is in the free­dom that tech­nol­ogy has yielded for any­one to make a movie. "TV, I don't think has taken that place. Not yet," adds Scors­ese, whose "Board­walk Em­pire" was lauded but whose high-priced "Vinyl" was can­celed af­ter one sea­son.

'Vinyl'

"I tried it. I had suc­cess to a cer­tain ex­tent. 'Vinyl' we tried but we found that the at­mos­phere for the type of pic­ture we wanted to make - the na­ture of the lan­guage, the drugs, the sex, de­pict­ing the rock 'n' roll world of the '70s - we got a lot of re­sis­tance. So I don't know about that free­dom." Since the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump, some have ex­pressed hope for a re­turn to the kind of '70s film­mak­ing Scors­ese is syn­ony­mous with. "If the younger peo­ple have some­thing to say and they find a way to say through vis­ual means as well as lit­er­ary, there's the new cin­ema," says Scors­ese.

But the cur­rent cli­mate re­minds him more of the '50s of his youth. "I'm wor­ried about dou­ble­think or triple-think, which is make you be­lieve you have the free­dom, but they can make it very dif­fi­cult to get the pic­ture shown, to get it made, ruin rep­u­ta­tions. It's hap­pened be­fore." "Si­lence," which Scors­ese screened for Je­suits at the Vat­i­can be­fore meet­ing with the pope, re­mains a pow­er­ful ex­cep­tion in a chang­ing Hol­ly­wood. "He wanted to make this film ex­tremely dif­fer­ently from any­thing out there," says Schoon­maker, Scors­ese's ed­i­tor since "Rag­ing Bull." —AP

In this photo, pro­ducer and di­rec­tor Martin Scors­ese poses for a por­trait in New York. — AP

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