Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Martin Scorsese and how it all began

Just had a chance to watch the three-DVD documentary set called "A Journey Through American Movies with Martin Scorsese."

Choice selection indeed!

Scorsese takes us from Hollywood's earliest incarnations, all the way up to the late 60s in American film lore. Right until the time when he started making films himself.

Without spoiling it for the rest of us, let me just say it''s a comprehensive and nearly four-hour overview of some of the classic genres in old-time Studio filmmaking. A dear friend even tipped me off to the companion book -- an offshoot of this great British Film Institute project.

From its early pre-WWI years with films like Intolerance and Cabiria, to the mid-twenties and projects by the German masters Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau, to Cecil B. DeMille's Ten Commandments, to Vicente Minnelli, to Howard Hawkes and Anthony Mann, and more. They're all in there.

I recommend it as required viewing for anyone desiring to hold their own in a film conversation. (I didn't know how much I was missing -- it's really endless, and as Scorsese says: "My education never ends."

Too little is known about the old studio system, with the former Big Five of Warner Bros., MGM, Paramount, RKO, and Fox -- the executive system today seems to be the end all be all -- as if nothing preceded it.

But like Will Smith sings in one of his famous songs -- "you don't know where you're going, if you don't know where you've been." ('s here and I like it...)

If you get a chance to see it, give me a shout. Better yet, let's talk about how it influenced you. As for yours truly -- I am now a film noir junkie.

Hey, you gotta have one vice in life, right?


At 5:20 AM, Blogger Sandra said...

Just one? Aw, that's no fun.

To answer your question from before, I'm not sure how similar the book is to the documentary, because I haven't seen it.
Chances are, if you've seen one, you don't have to read the other.

It sounds like a whole semester's worth of film history crammed into a few hours. It would be interested in hearing his perspective, though...

At 9:52 AM, Blogger Borscht said...

It's funny -- because it actually brings up an idea I was thinking about on my journey home. I looked at the gates to the neighbourhood where I live, and then I thought about how we used to climb at atop its walls -- it actually looks like a rampart -- so, when I ascend it, we could literally be on any fortress' walls --whether we're in Nettuno, Italy or Jerusalem, or Havana or whatever.

I thought back to a time when I was 10, and how we used to play there. But I look around, and nothing remains for the former time. Had me thinking about history...

If what was only there 20 years ago is no longer there...and all of the good times can be so quickly forgotten -- then what can we say about, I dunno, the past 100 years -- what measure of credibility do we have that what transpired a short time ago is precisely as it's recorded?

I started to get afraid -- for then, as student and afficionado of history -- are the things I've been learning all the time half-truths. I mean, it's not going to stop me -- and thankfully, I'm glad I'm not being indoctrinated -- but perhaps I am -- and I don't even know it?

Something that crossed my mind.

At 9:58 PM, Blogger Simon said...

If we all thought as much as you did, Adam, we'd all be pretty scared. I don't mean that facetiously, I seriously mean that life is pretty scary unless we consciously have faith in something - even if it is the fact that we actually did wake up this morning on Earth, and we're not actually in the Matrix or something. That's why I laugh when people admire me for having faith in God - we all have to have faith in something! Being a total skeptic would be a life of absolute terror...

But I digress... about the DVD: the power shift from studio to artist is starting to happen with musicians, too. George Michael recently released an album under his own terms because he didn't want to muck around with record labels anymore.

Question: is this just an arts thing? Or will we see the "Free Agent Nation" picture that Daniel Pink predicted, where every worker becomes - for better or worse - a self-employed master of their own destiny?


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