I haven’t loved a Scorsese pic in quite a while, but this lecture is fantastic. It’s wonderful to see someone who is clearly highly specialized who has such a broad, even peripatetic view of what he does. You can watch it on the NEH website here.
Frank Capra said: Film is a disease.
SCORSESE: He went on, but that’s enough for now.
SCORSESE: I caught the disease early on, you know. I used to feel it. And they used to take me to the movies all the time. I used to feel it whenever we walked up to the ticket booth with my mother or my father or my brother. You’d go through the doors, and the thick carpet, to – past the popcorn stand that had that wonderful smell – then to the ticket taker, and then sometimes they’d get – these doors would open in the back and there were little windows in it in some of the old theaters and I could see something magical happening up there on the screen, something special. And as we entered, for me I think now, it was like entering a sacred space, a kind of a sanctuary where the living world around me seemed to be recreated and played out.
First of all, there’s light. Light is at the beginning of cinema, of course. It’s fundamental – because it’s created with light, and it’s still best seen projected in dark rooms, where it’s the only source of light. But light is also at the beginning of everything. Most creation myths start with darkness, and then the real beginning comes with light – which means the creation of forms. Which leads to distinguishing one thing from another, and ourselves from the rest of the world. Recognizing patterns, similarities, differences, naming things – interpreting the world. Metaphors – seeing one thing – in light of something else. Becoming – enlightened. So light is at the core of who we are and how we understand ourselves.