Mean streets

Martin Scorsese's obsession with pain and suffering--and, more to the point, martyrdom--dates back to his breakthrough 1973 film Mean Streets, whose main character repeatedly puts his hand into a burning church candle to see what the flames of damnation will feel like. This fascination with violence continued in Taxi Driver ("Someday a real rain will come and wash the scum off the street"), Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, Goodfellas, Casino and Bringing Out the Dead. In all these films, Scorsese has emphasized that for a man on a mission, especially a holy mission, the cheek-turning teachings of the church don't matter. Actions speak louder than words, and bloody action speaks loudest of all. He doesn't condone the violence, or even attempt to explain it. It's just there.


This article is available to subscribers only. Please subscribe for full access—subscriptions begin at $2.95. Already have an online account? Log in now. Already a print subscriber? Create an online account for no additional cost.

This article is available to subscribers only.

To post a comment, log inregister, or use the Facebook comment box.