Directed By: Martin Scorsese, Michael Henry Wilson
Starring: Martin Scorsese, Kathryn Bigelow, Frank Capra
Trivia: This documentary was originally shown in 3 parts on the UK's Channel 4
This documentary is a must-see for all serious fans of the cinema. A trek through the history of American film, A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies takes us from the days of the silents right up to the mid-1960s.
Hosted by the director himself, A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies was produced by the British Film Institute in 1995, as part of their Century in Cinema series. Running for nearly four hours, this retrospective takes us on a guided tour through the annals of American film, from directors Hal Roach and D.W. Griffith onwards, paying special attention to those genres Scorsese feels are distinctly “American”, namely crime (one of the earliest of which was Griffith’s 1912 short, The Musketeers of Pig Alley), westerns, and the Broadway musicals (a la 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933). But there's so much more to this documentary besides, including dozens of film clips and a number of archived interviews with legends like Frank Capra and Nicholas Ray. For people who love movies, A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese is pure gold.
But as Scorsese, who also acts as narrator, points out at the beginning of this wonderful odyssey, the entire presentation is a very personal affair. In short, these are the movies that inspired him, that drove him to become a director, and their influence helped transform Scorsese into the filmmaker he is today. As you can imagine, what with this being a ‘personal journey’, Scorsese doesn’t limit himself to mainstream films. In fact, he says the lesser-known movies sometimes had a much bigger impact on his career. So, while we do take the occasional stroll along Main Street, Hollywood, hearing tales and recollections of D.W. Griffith, John Ford, Citizen Kane and Murnau’s Sunrise, we also walk with Scorsese down the side roads and back alleys, where we uncover the likes of Jacques Tourneur, Allan Dwan, Silver Lode and The Phenix City Story.
A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies is a brilliant combination of the known and the virtually undiscovered, making this cinematic expedition one fascinating ride.