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Last Updated:  Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 16:04 GMT
Martin Scorsese: American colossus
Martin Scorsese
Gangs of New York was a personal project for Scorsese
Director Martin Scorsese's Gangs Of New York has been a great success, both with critics and at the box office. BBC News Online looks at his career so far.

Martin Scorsese has stood astride US cinema for three decades like a giant.

Films such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas are now considered classics.

The Italian-American director is mentioned in the same breath as legendary film-makers John Ford, Billy Wilder and Orson Welles.

Ironically, despite the critical acclaim, he has won neither an Academy Award or a Golden Globe for any of his films despite seven nominations for best director.

Raging Bull lost out at the Oscars in favour of Robert Redford's Ordinary People while Goodfellas was similarly ignored as the Academy Award went to Kevin Costner for Dances with Wolves.

The recognition being given to Gangs of New York, one of Scorsese's most personal works, marks a return to form for a director many felt had lost his way.

Films such as Bringing out the Dead and the Age of Innocence were not given anything like the praise of his earlier work.

Mean Streets (1973)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Raging Bull (1980)
Goodfellas (1990)
Casino (1995)
Gangs of New York (2002)
The 60-year-old director from Queens, New York, emerged as a talent in the 1970s.

The diminutive film-maker was one of a crop of directors who wanted to challenge Hollywood sensibilities.


Along with William Friedkin, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg and Sydney Pollack, among others, Scorsese wanted to make films differently - creating an individual vision much as French directors had done in the past.

After flirting with the priesthood, Scorsese caught the eye of cult director Roger Corman after graduating from the film school of New York university.

Scorsese emerged in the 1970s as a talent
Scorsese emerged in the 1970s as a talent
His first major film, Mean Streets, established Scorsese's visceral style - loners with style and attitude and a penchant for violence, set in rough neighbourhoods and filmed with an operatic verve and accompanied by powerful popular music.

It also marked his relationship with two actors who helped define the Scorsese style - Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel.

Scorsese was the director but De Niro and Keitel as actors seemed like the living embodiment of his movies.

He has frequently tried to work against type and direct films considered outside his field and has made a musical, a Disney film, a music video and period drama - but with little success.

Music video

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, The King of Comedy, Kundun, The Age of Innocence and New York New York have all been considered major failures amid the classics he has produced.

He also directed the video for Michael Jackson's Bad, something he almost certainly does not feature on his CV.

But after so many years of knock-backs and snubs, there is a growing feeling that 2003 could be Scorsese's year for awards.

Academy voters especially tend to reward directors not only for achievement in one film but for a body of work and Scorsese's back catalogue is stuffed with classics.

Raging Bull
Scorsese's body of work may tip the Oscar scales in his favour
His latest film Gangs of New York has been dogged with problems.

Scorsese has been working on it for many years and filmed it at the Cinecitta studios in Rome, where many of the films made by his heroes shot.

The film is set between the 1840s and 1860s, a time when Irish and Italian gangs fought for control of the city's underworld.

The themes of violence, isolation and community are those most commonly associated with his work.



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