Watch: Martin Scorsese Embodies a Clash Between Neo-Realism and Postmodernism

Watch: Martin Scorsese Embodies a Clash Between Neo-Realism and Postmodernism

The Film Theorists have hit on something crucial about Martin Scorsese in their newest video essay, which is that his movies rely on the tension between the everyday, the grit, the grim, the signs of humanity at its worst, and an ongoing desire to transcend that element through cinematic technique. In ‘Goodfellas,’ we see the humble upbringings of the titular thugs contrasted with outsized violence, outsized dreams, outsized immorality. In ‘Raging Bull,’ we see the simplicity and primacy of boxing itself re-cast with outrageous camera angles, distended perspectives, drip-slow motion. And on and on. The makers of the video describe this tension in terms of the director’s lineage, his roots in the neorealism of Rossellini and Fellini, and the explosion that occurred when the director discovered these paradigms could be subverted–but the tension could be more integral than that, perhaps something within Scorsese himself that, like many geniuses before him, is able to maintain two contrasting ideas in mind at the same time. 

One thought on “Watch: Martin Scorsese Embodies a Clash Between Neo-Realism and Postmodernism”

  1. Fast cutting, jump cut and other techniques for messing up our sense of time mentioned are simply NOT postmodernist technique. Fast cutting was made famous by Eisenstein as early as in the 20s. Jump cut was made famous by Gordard as early as in the early 60s. But the idea of postmodernism in the art world was a product of the 70s. The things that are mentioned in the video have very little to do with postmodernism. To label them as "postmodern" does nothing more than mystifying them.

    To say that Scorsese’s film can be divided into "neo-realist" and "postmodernist" part also sounds strange if not outright arbitrary. What you have said amounts to no more than "Scorsese shot a scene calmly when the scene is calm, and shot a scene with intensity when the major actions and spectacles are taking place." But it is a basic directing technique. Almost every director does it when they see fit. It explains nothing about what’s unique about Scorsese’s directing.


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