A richly deserved honour for Martin Scorsese

The language of cinema in his works does not place Scorsese in the same league as John Ford, David Lean or William Wyler. Yet, he has carved for himself a secure niche in international cinema.
Last Updated 23 February 2024, 22:40 IST

Martin Scorsese was presented with the Honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement at the Berlin Film Festival. Nothing surprising as the legendary director already has many accolades to his name, for both filmmaking and film preservation and restoration. 

His association with iconic actor Robert De Niro is well known. They have made memorable films like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. He also brought out a commendable performance from Leonardo DiCaprio opposite veteran Ben Kingsley in Shutter Island. Paul Newman won an Oscar for his studied performance in Color of Money directed by Scorsese.

During an earlier Academy Awards ceremony, Martin Scorsese was sitting with Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Spielberg. The trio were discussing the finer aspects of cinema. Scorsese honestly confessed that he could not create an Apocalypse Now or an Amistad. To this, both the other directors replied that the scene in The Color Of Money in which Newman applies eye drops and gets ready to play billiards was something they could not have thought of.

Scorsese has given priority to violence in films like Gangs of New York. He shoots action sequences which are realistic and also specialises in using montages, long shots and close-ups in a rhythmic manner. His sense of colour is commendable so he has also taken up the noble and Herculean task of preserving and restoring films at his The Film Foundation. A number of well- paid technicians put in a lot of effort to preserve and restore classics from the around the world.

Film archivist and director Shivendra Singh Dungarpur first met Scorsese in 2013. He discovered a print of Uday Shankar's Kalpana which the foundation, along with Dungarpur, restored and preserved frame by frame. The original black and white essence of the film was intact just as the sound recording was. It was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the classic section and was well appreciated. Since then the foundation has supported film preservation workshops all over India conducted by Dungarpur. Both jointly preserved and restored G Aravindan’s Thampu and Kummatty. They are on the verge of preserving and restoring Girish Kasaravalli's Ghatashraddha.

Scorsese has always admired the works of Satyajit Ray. He ranks Ray among the top five filmmakers of the world of the past millennium. In fact, Scorsese, David Lean and John Huston have wondered how Ray could create masterpieces in shoestring budgets. No wonder he is now preserving Ray's 1969 classic Aranyer Din Ratri. If all goes well, the foundation will preserve more Indian classics.

Scorsese strongly feels the current generation should not miss out on these classics. Once he told Spielberg that films like The Diary of Anne Frank or Judgment at Nuremberg should be available for audience of all generations. The filmmaker also has immense respect for the works of Ingmar Bergman and François Truffaut. According to him Akira Kurosawa could create poetry on celluloid with the magic of his camera.

The language of cinema in his works does not place Scorsese in the same league as John Ford, David Lean or William Wyler. Yet, he has carved for himself a secure niche in international cinema. His films may not be politically motivated like the works of Stanley Kramer or Elia Kazan. Still people all over the world flock to view Scorsese films even now. No wonder then that his latest creation Killers Of The Flower Moon has received rave reviews and done well at the box office.

(Published 23 February 2024, 22:40 IST)

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