A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies review by The Grim Ringler

A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies

If you couldnt tell yet, I am a movie nerd, a full on, watches, talks, thinks movies movie nerd. I am far from a scholar and only can lay claim to knowing what I know and no more. But what I lack in knowledge, I have tried to make up in enthusiasm. With Martin Scorsese you get both the enthusiasm of a film dork and the knowledge of a person who has studied film since he was a child and has gone from an appreciator of classic film to a creator of it. What better person then to host a retrospective on American film from the soup to the nuts.

A Personal Journey is just that, a very personal tour through the films that have shaped Martin Scorsese into the brilliant director he has become, and that have changed the face of film and the way it is seen. He separates the documentary into several sections and then delves into them that way, thus making it easier to focus on directors, themes, and techniques and elements that changed film forever. Scorsese seems to focus on many of the lesser known films and directors, which is a bit myopic, but is done with a purpose. There are far too many great filmmakers and great films that are lost between the cracks because they were barely appreciated when they were made or have been forgotten through the years. And with the help of Scorsese, whose passion and knowledge really give this documentary the heart and soul it needs to pull you in for the length of the entire series, you begin to feel as if no matter how many films you have seen, that you have missed so many more that its a bit intimidating. During Personal Journey you see how people like D.W. Griffith, Chaplin, Lang, Welles, Ford, Murnau and too many others managed to tell very personal, very deep stories within the confines of an ever-tightening studio system, and in so doing sent shockwaves through the entire industry. You see Hollywood from an era when the director was a god that ruled over all, to a time when directors had to create films by committee, someone always watching over their shoulder through the entire process. And more than anything you get an appreciation for what has changed since the early days of filmmaking and at how little so many of our modern filmmakers give a damn for the people that carved out the film industry with their bare hands. A Personal Journey takes people that the much of the industry has forgotten and makes them into the heroes and legends they are. Never does Scorsese do more than show you what they did, and tell you how they did it, you can sense his admiration, but it never crosses into slavish hero-worship.

If I had a complaint about the documentary its that it covers too little sometimes. Horror movies and science fiction films, two genres that have most definitely had a lasting effect on Hollywood, are left out of the documentary (which, how can you leave out films like Invasion of the Bodysnatchers which played perfectly on an American dream which had turned to cold war paranoia?), as are many other important films and their creators. I can understand why, because it IS called a personal journey, so he focused on the movies that most affected him, but it does feel lacking because of these oversights. It also hurts the doc that you are never really allowed past the early seventies, and never get a sense of the way films have changed, though again, being that Scorsese came from that era, maybe he didnt want to tread into his own territory for fear of a lack of objectivity. But the facts is, you could go on listening to Scorsese for hours speak about the things he loves the most, and never get bored with it. Rare is it to find someone so well spoken and passionate about a subject like film and never do they talk down about it, nor do they try to make apologies for being what they are entertainments. This is a must see for any fan of cinema, world, indie, American, or pop, and is a wonderful crash-course in the history of a Hollywood that may have lost some of its luster, but has not lost its magic. In a word, brilliant.

c


9 out of 10 Jackasses

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