On Martin Scorsese’s birthday, five of his best non-gangster films

Martin Scorsese Almost an age group (he turns 79 today) but remains on top of his game. He is making such films right now that no other filmmaker, no matter how young, can come close to the sheer skill and craft. His final, gangster epic The Irishman was declared one of the best, if not the best, of his career. For many, it is his films about crime lords and drug kingpins that define Scorsese.

And in fact, many of the best films he has made are a study on crime and criminals.

However, his filmography is replete with several films that prove that he is far from a one-trick pony. For example, many of his films are reflective, intimate explorations of religion and religious figures. Here is a list of his movies which proves that he is much more than a director of iconic gangster pictures.

Christ’s Last Temptation

Willem Dafoe as Jesus of Nazareth in The Last Temptation of Christ. (Photo: Universal Pictures)

Who was that person who was also a god? Did they struggle with human emotions and setbacks? Did he feel hurt, lonely and scared like us? Scholars have encountered the dual nature of Jesus of Nazareth for centuries. Scorsese and the Greek author of the book of the same name on which The Last Temptation of Christ is based, Nikos Kazantzakis, asked the above questions not as believers, but as storytellers, to explore it as a character study and underlying Approached to mine the dramatic quality.

The film naturally sparked widespread protests and even an outright terrorist attack, but looking at it, one can see that it was a very serious, compelling film, and not just inciting believers. and to humiliate. Willem Dafoe was brilliant in the lead role. The film began Scorsese’s trilogy of introspective films on religion and faith.


Liam Neeson, Silent Liam Neeson in silence. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

Unlike the previous entry in the list, Silence examined faith in general, and not a central figure. It followed a group of Jesuit priests who travel to 17th-century Japan (Edo-era) to find their master, who were tortured by the Tokugawa shogunate and later abandoned their faith. . The beautifully shot film is in epic tone and faithfully recreates the era. The performances, especially by Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Shinya Tsukamoto, are excellent and the film tackles ideas that are in some sense more challenging than The Last Temptation of Christ. However, in true Scorsese fashion, the film was not didactic at all, and left the audience to answer the complex questions that were posed by the narrative.

shutter Island

shutter Island A still from Shutter Island. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name tells the story of two US marshals, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, who arrive on an island that is criminally insane to investigate the disappearance of a prisoner. There is a facility. The film is known to have an ending that changes the way the audience views the entire story. This is an otherwise well made film, with absolutely stunning cinematography, performances, background score, writing and of course, direction.


A film so far removed from anything else, Scorsese has done so that he doesn’t feel like his film at all. Just goes to show how good he is even when he’s not in his comfort zone (which is mostly, dark character studies of men losing their minds, crime lords, violent portrayals of the American underbelly) , and so on). The story of the Dalai Lama is very interesting. Around 1950, Tibet was invaded by the new communist power in Chinese as a “liberation” of the country from the “imperialists” (the Tibetan government).

Kunduni A still from Kundan. (Photo: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

Tibet had no standing army to speak of, and any voluntary fighters that could be mobilized in an emergency were inadequately equipped and had little or no training. The mighty Chinese army made quick action of any resistance, and the Dalai Lama had to flee to India – and that’s where he runs his government in exile.

However, Kundun is unlike any biographical movie you have ever seen. The film is mainly told through visuals and sound. It helps that it’s the great Roger Deakins handling the cinematography, and Philip Glass writing the lovely score. The result is a meditative (not necessarily slow) portrayal of the world’s most famous spiritual leader.

king of comedy

king of comedy Robert De Niro in The King of Comedy. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

As mentioned above, Scorsese excels at gangster movies and dark character studies. And character studies are rarely as dark as the king of comedy. It’s the film that Todd Phillips owes the most to Joker, about a comedian losing his touch with reality after repeated rebukes. This is a deeply unpleasant film to watch, perhaps because it unconsciously captures the loneliness and emotional isolation that we see around and inside us. Robert De Niro has been one of Hollywood’s best actors for decades, and this may be the best performance of his career.


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