Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola are two of the biggest pioneers of the New Hollywood movement, responsible for creating enigmatic masterpieces that changed the trajectory of American cinema forever. Through monumental works like Taxi Driver and Apocalypse Now, Scorsese and Coppola inspired new generations of aspiring artists.
While attempting to analyse the birth of the American New Wave, many scholars have tried to find the similarities between the sensibilities of Scorsese, Coppola and other pioneers such as Brian De Palma. Their respective styles are very different but all of them were definitely influenced by each other since they were a part of the same movement.
On various occasions, Scorsese has publicly spoken about his admiration for Coppola’s cinematic vision. In 1996, he even penned an article for Esquire where he spoke about his favourite Coppola film of all time. Many fans might immediately think that it has to be The Godfather but that’s not the case.
Scorsese revealed that his top pick was the sequel to The Godfather which was equally acclaimed. While describing it, he wrote: “Constructed like a symphony and directed by a master as a great conductor directs his orchestra, it reaches its highest points of lyricism, for me, in The Godfather, Part II—my favourite of Francis Ford Coppola’s pictures.”
Adding, “I admire the ambition of the project, its Shakespearean breadth, its tragic melancholy in its portrayal of the dissolution of the American dream… It is particularly the film within the film, the story of young Vito Corleone and his journey from Sicily to the Lower East Side, that touched me in a deep, personal way.”
From his article, it is evident that Scorsese had a deep connection with The Godfather Part II because he saw the reflection of his own family in the film as well as his experiences. Many consider The Godfather to be Coppola’s finest work but the acclaimed sequel might just be his greatest achievement because he maintained the momentum of the original while surpassing it in many ways.
The filmmaker explained: “Perhaps I saw a bit of my grandparents in that journey; perhaps I recognised my old neighbourhood; perhaps I shared the sadness of the dream turning into a nightmare…” Due to Coppola’s disagreement with the studio during the making of the first film, he actually wanted Scorsese to direct the sequel but he ended up doing it himself and it gave Scorsese one of his favourite films of all time.