Saturday, March 20, 2010

Martin Scorcese talks homage

Ed here' Martin Scorcese talks about preparing himself and his actors for Shutter Island in a long and excellent interview in the UK's Telegraph. I should note here that he cites Val Lewton's The Seventh Victim. It is one of the few films I've ever seen (and I've seen it probably ten times over the years) that is propelled almost exclusively by dread. I remember seeing it in a second-run house when I was probably twelve or so and thinking that this was basically my take on the world. The anticipation of terrible things happening and no way to stop them. Lovecraft's darkest gods I suppose, playing with you and whispering that it's going to be even worse than you can imagine.


"The key film I showed Leo and Mark,’ Scorsese says, 'was Laura – Dana Andrews, the way he wears his tie, and the way he walks through a room, and he doesn’t even look at anybody; he’s always playing that little game. He’s just trying to get the facts.’

"But the films, he adds, that he had 'really tied up tight’ in mood and tone were the lower-than-low-budget schlockers made in the 1940s by Val Lewton when he was the head of the 'horror department’ at RKO Pictures – Cat People, Isle of the Dead, The Seventh Victim and I Walked with a Zombie.

'I discovered them in the 1950s. There was a small theatre on Second Avenue that would show third, fourth or fifth-run movies. Isle of the Dead was the one. I was 10 or 11 when I saw it – the scene towards the end where the woman who’s been buried alive comes out, and she’s appearing in the forest at night, she’s wearing a shroud and you never know where she’s going to appear and who she’s going to kill. I remember getting up and walking out of the theatre because it was so terrifying – and you didn’t see anything!’

He laughs. 'There’s no way you could aspire to come close to what those films did. They came out of a certain time and place. There’s no way we can recapture that. But we can make references. We shouldn’t be afraid to make a homage; but it had to be serious, not ironic.’

for the rest go here


Max Allan Collins said...

The mood is great and there is considerable artistry in the film. But the "surprise ending" was obvious even in the trailer, and the film takes a short story's-worth of narrative (it would make a decent Alfred Hitchcock TV episode) and goes on and on and on with it. A last-reel reveal of the tragedy that sparks the action then flashes back to a lengthy, incruciatingly obvious flashback to those events that is as unpleasant as it is unnecessary. I have never read the Lehane novel, but this film feels more an exercise in homage than a tale worth such length, anyway. THE SEVENTH VICTIM was was 71 minutes long, and LAURA 85 minutes, not two and a half hours.

Dave Zeltserman said...

The big twist is taken directly by "The Ninth Configuration", Peter Blatty's movie based on his book, Twinkle Twinkle 'Killer' Kane, except in Shutter Island, the movie is the big reveal, while in "Ninth Configuration", it's far more ambitious where the reveal is a starting off point for the exploration of the existence of God + goodness of Man.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Some lovely Scorcese touches in Shutter Island but it cannot escape its dull middle. So much obfuscation and there is so little character development.