Martin Scorsese wants directors to fight comic book movie culture

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Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese
| Photo Credit: REUTERS

Studios are not interested in supporting individual voices on a big budget, says master director Martin Scorsese, who called on filmmakers to “save cinema” in the age of franchise and comic book entertainment. In an interview with GQ magazine, the Oscar winner said the film industry that he was a part of 50 years ago is “over”. His next film is Killers of the Flower Moon, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, and Robert DeNiro.

“Well, the industry is over. In other words, the industry that I was part of, we’re talking almost, what, 50 years ago? It’s like saying to somebody in 1970 who made silent films, what do you think’s happened? “(Studios are not) interested any longer in supporting individual voices that express their personal feelings or their personal thoughts and personal ideas and feelings on a big budget. And what’s happened now is that they’ve pigeonholed it to what they call indies,” Scorsese said.

In 2019, the veteran director sparked a controversy after he branded Marvel and comic book films as “theme park experience” and “not cinema”. Almost four years later, he is sticking to his guns. Asked if theatres only had space for comic book and franchise movies made by Hollywood and a certain segment of the audience thinks that that’s what films are supposed to be, Scorsese said people “already think that”.

“Which means that we have to then fight back stronger. And it’s got to come from the grassroots level. It’s gotta come from the filmmakers themselves,” the director said, praising Safdie Brothers and Christopher Nolan for staying true to their filmmaking style despite pressure from studios.

“Hit ’em from all sides, and don’t give up. Let’s see what you got. Go out there and do it. Go reinvent. Don’t complain about it. But it’s true, because we’ve got to save cinema,” he added.

Scorsese, who revealed Warner Bros wanted The Departed to be a franchise film, said “manufactured content isn’t really cinema”. “It’s almost like AI making a film. And that doesn’t mean that you don’t have incredible directors and special effects people doing beautiful artwork. But what does it mean? “What do these films, what will it give you? Aside from a kind of consummation of something and then eliminating it from your mind, your whole body, you know? So what is it giving you?” he asked.

According to Scorsese, Warner Bros asked if one of the two leads in The Departed, played by DiCaprio and Matt Damon, could live. “What they wanted was a franchise. It wasn’t about a moral issue of a person living or dying. And then the studio guys walked out and they were very sad, because they just didn’t want that movie. They wanted the franchise. Which means: I can’t work here anymore,” he recalled.

The filmmaker, however, is not averse to technological experimentation in movie making. “I’m looking forward to new ways. It’s just, I got as far as this. And that’s what I do. That’s it. And if I could just muster up the energy, God willing, to make a couple more, one more maybe, and that’s it, okay? That’s as far as I got. You keep going until you can’t.

Killers of the Flower Moon is touted as an epic Western crime saga with the story being told through the improbable romance of Ernest Burkhart (DiCaprio) and Mollie Kyle (Gladstone). Based on the New York Times best-selling book of the same name by author David Grann, the film had its world premiere at the 76th Cannes Film Festival in May. It hits the screens on October 20.

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