Daily Archives: December 7, 2010

Scorsese, Boardwalk Empire and Sin

I don’t know why this topic has prompted a post here, except that I haven’t posted for a few days and this happens to be on my mind a little.  I have to add as a disclaimer that I haven’t followed the series all that closely, but I think I’ve seen enough of it to get the flavor of it, especially in light of my preceding familiarity with Scorsese’s other work.

Martin Scorsese studied to be a priest.  I read a self-description somewhere to the effect that he has only two big areas of interest in his life:  films and religion.

The way he does films, I’m not sure these two things are all that separate with him.

Perhaps the paradigm of Scorsese films was 1990’s Goodfellas.  It was based on a true story, like Boardwalk Empire.

Scorsese somewhat graphically dwells on sin in his movies, whether in the form of violence or sex or some combination of the two, with other vices and failings thrown in here and there.  What’s peculiar about his approach is that it’s impressionistic, or maybe a better word is phenomenological.

I guess another way of putting it is, he just shows you.  He doesn’t particularly comment:  doesn’t condemn exactly, doesn’t approve exactly, he just introduces these characters and shows what they do.  And a lot of it is just god-awful – although that’s my take on it.  Scorsese never really says that.

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