When a master in a craft tells you that you should do something you tend to listen. So, when Martin Scorsese mentions over 80 films that have helped him learn about cinema, I think it's time to perk up our ears. Not only that, but he answers that question that I'm sure most of us have been asked, "Why should I watch old movies?"
These films definitely changed the way I looked at film, both in terms of genre and aesthetics, but most of these, as well as those on the list, are -- old movies. I mean, technically Do The Right Thing isn't "old" -- it's definitely more contemporary than the others, but Scorsese's choices reveal a penchant for films that are definitely not recent. Scorsese once said:
There was always a part of me that wanted to be an old-time director. But I couldn't do that. I'm not a pro.
But why? Why are older movies usually touted as -- well, better than contemporary films? (Obviously, I don't mean always and "old" and "better" are subjective, but typically the films analyzed in film courses, textbooks, and film focused websites are -- old.) Anyway, Scorsese answers that question:
I’m often asked by younger filmmakers, why do I need to look at old movies -- And the response I find that I have to give them is that I still consider myself a student. The more pictures I’ve made in the past twenty years the more I realize I really don’t know. And I’m always looking for something to, something or someone that I could learn from. I tell them, I tell the younger filmmakers and the young students that I do it like painters used to do, or painters do: study the old masters, enrich your palette, expand your canvas. There’s always so much more to learn.
Totally, Marty -- err -- Martin. Mr. Scorsese. Who better to learn filmmaking from than from those who wrote the book on it, and filmmakers like Georges Méliès and D.W. Griffith essentially did.
So, I figured we could sound off on our favorite old movies -- the ones that shaped the way we view cinema and the ones that are just near and dear to our hearts. I'll get the ball rolling:
- Pierrot le Fou
- The Passion of Joan of Arc
- He Who Gets Slapped (because I'm terrified of clowns)
Now you go!
Also, if you want to see Scorsese's full list of 85 essential films, click here.