From Jean-Luc Godard to Akira Kurosawa: Martin Scorsese created a list of his 39 favourite foreign films
Martin Scorsese took the opportunity to pass on some of his acclaimed cinema knowledge to a student of film, guiding the young creative through an emphatic list of some of his favourite foreign films.
A few years ago young filmmaker Colin Levy spent hours in the editing room of his high school, completing his five-minute short film which would go on to win him the national Young Arts award. The prize for winning such an award was a sit down one-on-one meeting with Taxi Driverand Raging Bull filmmaker Scorsese.
Remembering the moment, Levy wrote an article on his blog, describing it as: “It was a defining moment in my path as a filmmaker,” while admitting that personal tour of Scorsese’s office, editing bays and more came as a huge shock to the system. “Martin Scorsese was intimidating, to say the least. But very jovial, very talkative, and he took me seriously. (Or convinced me, at least.) I pretty much kept my mouth shut,” Levy continued to explain in his blog post.
“Every 30 seconds he would mention an actor, producer, director or film title I had never heard of before. I was stunned just to be in his presence. He liked my film, he said. ‘How did you do the little creatures?’ I tried to explain how I figured out the basics of 3D animation. His eyes lit up and he started talking about the digital effects in The Aviator. The juxtaposition of scales was overpowering.”
Levy added: “I felt like I was in a movie. Why he spent so much time with me I do not know, but it was amazing just to be in his presence. A few weeks afterwards I labored over a thank-you card, in which I expressed the overwhelming impression I had gotten that I don’t know enough about anything. I specially don’t know enough about film history and foreign cinema. I asked if he had any suggestions for where to start.”
Levy would walk away from the surreal experience of meeting his idol with a sense of dreamlike wonder. While it was a meeting that would determine his dream to become a filmmaker, the information overload was too difficult to consume. A couple of weeks later, albeit randomly, Scorsese’s assistant contacted Levy to explain that Scorsese had compiled a list of his favourite 39 foreign film and a handful of books: “Mr. Scorsese asked that I send this your way,” his assistant wrote. “This should be a jump start to your film education!”
Scorsese’s list includes some classics likes Metropolis and Bicycle Thief which is wide-ranging. Perhaps surprisingly, the filmmaker decided to leave out big names such as Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman but did reference Japanese post-war films and included three pictures created by the great Akira Kurosawa.
See the full list, below.
Martin Scorsese 39 Favourite Films:
1. Nosferatu (1922) – F.W. Murnau 2. Metropolis (1927)- Fritz Lang 3. Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler (1922) – Fritz Lang 4. Napoleon (1927) – Abel Gance 5. Grand Illusion (1937)– Jean Renoir 6. Rules Of The Game (1939) – Jean Renoir 7. Children Of Paradise (1945) – Marcel Carné 8. Rome, Open City (1945) – Roberto Rossellini 9. Paisà (Paisan) (1946) – Roberto Rossellini 10. La Terra Trema (1948) – Luchino Visconti 11. The Bicycle Thief (1948) – Vittorio De Sica 12. Umberto D. (1952) – Vittorio De Sica 13. Beauty & The Beast (1946) – Jean Cocteau 14. Tokyo Story (1953) – Yasujirō Ozu 15. Ikiru (1952) – Akira Kurosawa 16. Seven Samurai (1954) – Akira Kurosawa 17. Ugetsu (1953) – Kenji Mizoguchi 18. Sansho The Bailiff (1954) – Kenji Mizoguchi 19. High and Low (1963) – Akira Kurosawa 20. Big Deal On Madonna Street (1958) – Mario Monicelli 21. Rocco and His Brothers (1960) – Luchino Visconti 22. The 400 Blows (1959) – François Truffaut 23. Shoot the Piano Player (1960) – François Truffaut 24. Breathless (1960) – Jean-Luc Godard 25. Band of Outsiders (1964) – Jean-Luc Godard 26. Il Sorpasso (1962) – Dino Risi 27. L’avventura (1960) – Michelangelo Antonioni 28. Blow Up (1966) – Michelangelo Antonioni 29. Before the Revolution (1964) – Bernardo Bertolucci 30. Le boucher (1970) – Claude Chabrol 31. Weekend – (1967) Jean-Luc Godard 32. Death by Hanging (1968) – Nagisa Ôshima 33. The Merchant of Four Seasons (1971) – Rainer Werner Fassbinder 34. Ali: Fear Eats The Soul (1974) – Rainer Werner Fassbinder 35. The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) – Rainer Werner Fassbinder 36. Kings of the Road (1976) – Wim Wenders 37. The American Friend (1970) – Wim Wenders 38. The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974) –Werner Herzog 39. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) –Werner Herzog