Martin Scorsese – BFI Screen Talk

Martin Scorsese – BFI Screen Talk

Ahead of the UK premiere of ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ at BFI London Film Festival, legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese spoke at a sold-out Screen Talk at Royal Festival Hall.

By Adam Davidson

The Screen Talk, hosted by British filmmaker Edgar Wright, was undoubtedly one of the most hotly-anticipated events of this year’s festival, as Martin Scorsese shared anecdotes from his illustrious career.

Wright introduced Martin as, “Not just one of the greatest living filmmakers”, but one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. The thousands in attendance certainly shared this sentiment: he was instantly given a standing ovation.

The event lasted just 90 minutes but everybody would have been happy to stay for a few more hours, hanging on every word, with anecdotes about ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Taxi Driver’ and insightful takes on the state of the film industry.

One of the most captivating points of the conversation came when Scorsese was asked about ‘Taxi Driver.’ The director said that all of his movies were “all-consuming” but this was especially the case with the 1976 classic.

“The passion for the picture maybe had to do with my own coming of age in life, my own anger and frustration being someone who couldn’t defend myself in the streets physically. I had to survive through wit.”

Scorsese said that inspiration for protagonist Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) came after reading Dostoevsky, specifically ‘Notes From Underground.’

He said: “I really connected with the Underground Man. I felt that I was him, a lot of people did when they read ‘Notes From Underground.’ I was looking for a way out and if you go through Dostoevsky, particularly ‘The Brothers Karamazov’, he finds a way out of being the Underground Man. But here we are stuck in the underground.

“Not only is it the Underground Man that turns violent and crosses the line from sanity to insanity, he is rewarded for it. It is an ambiguous sense of celebrating the violent.”

After ‘Taxi Driver’, Scorsese had further success in the 20th Century with ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Goodfellas’ – which Wright described as one of the most influential movies of all time.

The director admitted that he had no idea ‘Goodfellas’ would go on to have the impact and legacy that it has today.

Talking about the classic Gangster flick, Scorsese said: “I remember one famous critic said, ‘It’s Scarface, without Scarface.’ That’s right, it’s about the whole lifestyle, that’s the star of the movie.

“Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) is our Virgil taking Dante down to the lower depths – he doesn’t make it to even Purgatory, but he tries to get there.”

Scorsese is in London for the UK premiere of his upcoming movie ‘Killers of the Flower Moon.’ The movie is led by Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone and depicts a moment of American history that is swept under the carpet, the serial murder of members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation in the 1920s.

According to Scorsese, the heart of the movie is the love between Mollie [Gladstone] and Ernest [DiCaprio.]

“I found that out by hanging out with the Osage in Oklahoma, they pointed out that it wasn’t as simple as people going in and shooting and poisoning, it’s people’s trust and the betrayal of trust. Despite everything, they were in love.

“If I show in that relationship an incredible betrayal of trust then that’s the story because that’s the essence of what they were doing with the Osage Nation.”

Towards the end of the event, Wright remarked that Scorsese has become a spokesperson for the current state of cinema, to which he replied, “I don’t want to be the last line of defence.”

He added: “I’m afraid the franchise films will be taking over the theatres. I always ask the theatre owners to create a space where younger people would say they want to see this new film, which is not a franchise film, in a theatre and share that with everybody around them.

“So that they want to go to the theatre, that it’s something inviting that doesn’t get them to say they could see it at home. Because the experience of seeing a film with a lot of people is really still the key, I think. But I’m not sure that can be easily achieved at this point.”

Get tickets to ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ HERE