Auteur director Martin Scorsese laments the state of Hollywood, doubling down on previous criticism of superhero movies as harmful to cinema.
- Acclaimed director Martin Scorsese expresses concern about the impact of superhero and franchise movies on our culture, calling for filmmakers to fight back and save cinema.
- Scorsese believes that the prevalence of manufactured content in Hollywood is detrimental to the art of cinema. He questions the value of these films, arguing that they provide little beyond momentary entertainment and lack deeper meaning.
- He emphasizes the need for a grassroots movement led by filmmakers like the Safdie brothers and Christopher Nolan to challenge the dominance of superhero and franchise movies and restore the true essence of cinema.
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Acclaimed director Martin Scorsese harps on the state of Hollywood, suggesting how cinema can be saved from superhero and franchise movies. Now 80 years old, Scorsese is known as an auteur for his decades-long career in film, originating in the 1970s when he rose to prominence through films like Taxi Driver and Mean Streets. Now, Scorsese boasts over 50 directorial credits, copious more producing credits, and has been nominated for a plethora of Academy Awards. His newest film, Killers of the Flower Moon will release this fall.
Scorsese opens up about the current state of Hollywood cinema in an interview with GQ. Speaking on superhero and other “manufactured” mainstream comment, the director worried that “there are going to be generations that think movies are only those.” Of those types of films, Scorsese questioned “What do these films, what will it give you?” besides “consummation of something.” In response, Scorsese encouraged audiences to check more films made by the likes of Christopher Nolan and Uncut Gems and Good Time‘s the Safdie brothers. Check out the full quote from Nolan below:
“The danger there is what it’s doing to our culture. Because there are going to be generations now that think movies are only those—that’s what movies are. They 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. And you’ll have, you know, the Safdie brothers, and you’ll have Chris Nolan, you know what I mean? And hit ’em from all sides. 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. I do think that the manufactured content isn’t really cinema.
“No, I don’t want to say it. But what I mean is that, it’s manufactured content. 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?”
Is Martin Scorsese Right About The State of Hollywood?
Scorsese is not the first prominent director to speak out about the state of Hollywood of late. Earlier this year, independent film writer and director Charlie Kaufman called “seductive” Hollywood movies “garbage,” expressing similar sentiments that such films dilute quality cinema for the common audience. Kaufman was echoed by fellow independent director Richard Linklater, who talked along similar lines about film. Scorsese, likely due to his greater prominence in the mainstream than both Kaufman and Linklater, is a little more forgiving in his take, recognizing the value of “incredible directors and special effects people doing beautiful artwork.”
Still, Scorsese’s take on the state of Hollywood is far from optimistic. Hailing Nolan’s movies by name as this year’s experimental biopic hit Oppenheimer tears up the box office is of particular note. Unlike the Safdie brothers, for instance, Nolan is a mainstream director who is operating under huge budgets. Oppenheimer was made using an estimated $100 million, which is no small fee in the industry. Thus, Scorsese is clearly forgiving towards films that are mainstream that still “reinvent,” but specifically disowns large franchise films that he finds to be a “danger.”
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In evaluating Scorsese’s opinion, it is important to consider these nuances. While it is true that the likes of DC or the Marvel Cinematic Universe tend to dominate the box office, 2023 has shown the opportunity to change that narrative. Even this year’s highest earner, Barbie, has broken new ground and shown that audiences are willing to accept quality creative work from outside major franchises. Hopefully, this trend continues into the fall as films like Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon hit theaters.