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Martin Marcantonio Luciano Scorsese (born November 17, 1942) is an American film director, writer and producer and founder of the World Cinema Foundation. He won the Academy Award for Best Director for his film The Departed at the 79th Academy Awards in 2007. He is also a recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award for his contributions to the cinema and has won awards from the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Directors Guild of America.
Scorsese's body of work addresses such themes as Italian American identity, Roman Catholic concepts of guilt and redemption, machismo, and the violence endemic in American society. Scorsese is widely considered to be one of the most significant and influential American filmmakers of his era. He earned an MFA in film directing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.
Martin Scorsese was born in New York City. His father, Luciano Charles Scorsese (1900-1993), and mother, Catherine Scorsese (1912-1997), both worked in New York's Garment District. It was at this stage in his life that he developed his passion for cinema. Scorsese developed an admiration for neo-realist cinema. He recounted its influence in a documentary on Italian neorealism, and commented on how Bicycle Thieves inspired director Satyajit Ray, and how this influenced his view or portrayal of his Sicilian heritage. His initial desire to become a priest was forsaken for cinema - the seminary traded for NYU Film School, where he received his MFA in film directing in 1966.
Although the Vietnam War had started at the time, Scorsese was able to avoid military service. He attended New York University's film school (B.A., English, 1963; M.F.A., film, 1966) making the short films What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1963) and It's Not Just You, Murray! (1964). His most famous short of the period is the darkly comic The Big Shave (1967), which featured an unnamed man who shaves himself until profusely bleeding, ultimately slitting his own throat with his razor. The film is an indictment of America's involvement in Vietnam, suggested by its alternative title Viet '67.
Also in 1967, Scorsese made his first feature-length film, the black and white Who's That Knocking at My Door with fellow student, actor Harvey Keitel, and editor Thelma Schoonmaker both of whom were to become long term collaborators. This film was a precursor to his later Mean Streets. Even in embryonic form, the "Scorsese style" was already evident: a feel for New York Italian American street-life, rapid editing, an eclectic rock soundtrack and a troubled male protagonist.
Scorsese's next project was his fifth collaboration with Robert De Niro, The King of Comedy (1983). An absurdist satire on the world of media and celebrity, it was an obvious departure from the more emotionally committed films he had become associated with. Visually too it was far less kinetic than the style the director had developed up until this point, often using a static camera and long takes. The expressionism of his recent work here gave way to moments of almost total surrealism. However it was still an obvious Scorsese work, and apart from the New York locale, it bore many similarities to Taxi Driver, not least of which was its focus on an obsessed troubled loner who ironically achieves iconic status through a criminal act (murder and kidnapping, respectively).
The King of Comedy failed at the box office but has become increasingly well regarded by critics in the years since its release. It is arguable that its themes of vacuous show business and celebrity obsession are more pertinent today than when the film was originally released.
Next Scorsese made a brief cameo appearance in the movie Pavlova: A Woman for All Time, originally intended to be directed by one his heroes, Michael Powell. This led to a more significant role in Bertrand Tavernier's jazz movie Round Midnight.
In 1983 Scorsese began work on a long-cherished personal project, The Last Temptation of Christ, based on the 1951 book written by Nikos Kazantzakis (who was introduced to the director by actress Barbara Hershey when they were both attending New York University in the late 1960s). The movie was slated to shoot under the Paramount Studios banner, but shortly before principal photography was to commence, Paramount pulled the plug on the project, citing pressure from religious groups. In this aborted 1983 version, Aidan Quinn was cast as Jesus, and Sting was cast as Pontius Pilate. (In the 1988 version, these roles were played by Willem Dafoe and David Bowie.)
Scorsese made a much anticipated return to the crime genre with his latest film, the Boston-set thriller The Departed, based on the Hong Kong police drama Infernal Affairs. The film once again united the director with Leonardo DiCaprio, an actor he has worked with for three consecutive projects. The Departed also brought Scorsese together with fellow New Hollywood icon Jack Nicholson.
The Departed opened to widespread critical acclaim with some proclaiming it as one of the best efforts Scorsese had brought to the screen since 1990's Goodfellas, and still others putting it at the same level as Scorsese's most celebrated classics Taxi Driver, and Raging Bull. With domestic box office receipts surpassing $129,402,536, The Departed is Scorsese's highest grossing film (not accounting for inflation).
Martin Scorsese's direction of The Departed earned him his second Golden Globe for Best Director, as well as a Critic's Choice Award, his first Director's Guild of America Award, and (after five unfruitful nominations) the Academy Award for Best Director. The award was thought to be long overdue, and some entertainment critics subsequently referred to it as Scorsese's "Lifetime Achievement" Oscar, or the "Taxi Driver/Raging Bull/Goodfellas" Oscar. It was presented to him by his longtime friends and colleagues Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and George Lucas, all fellow members of the New Hollywood generation. The Academy responded to Scorsese's win with a standing and roaring ovation. The Departed also received the Academy Award for the Best Motion Picture of 2006, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing by longtime Scorsese editor Thelma Schoonmaker, her third win for a Scorsese film.
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