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Martin Scorsese's favourite Roberto Rossellini film


Filmmaker and purveyor of classic cinema, Martin Scorsese, has had an indelible effect on the history of movies, making his mark with such films as Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Raging Bull and Casino. Typified by gritty enigmatic stories about complicated, often troubled individuals, the films of Martin Scorsese have become some of the most iconic tales of all time, inspiring other filmmakers and creatives across the world. 

When it comes to the director’s own favourite films, there is no doubt that he prefers the classic films of the past rather than contemporary efforts in the art, looking to the likes of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, Jean Renoir, Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini and Jean-Luc Godard. Preferring the realism and the multi-layered fascination of such classic movies, Scorsese has brought a similar sense of classic filmmaking to his own releases, reflected in the likes of 2016’s Silence.

Speaking about the nature of his cinematic tastes, Scorsese has previously noted: “I prefer the escapism of fantasy, rather than the escapism of incredible sentimentality,” he said. Clarifying how this links back to his own love of classic cinema, he adds: “What I’m afraid of is pandering to tastes that are superficial. There’s no depth anymore. What appears to be depth is often a facile character study… But they’re making a product, and a product’s gotta sell”. 

Included in his list of all-time favourite filmmakers is the Italian director of Journey to Italy, Stromboli, Europe ’51 and Rome, Open City, Roberto Rossellini, someone that Martin Scorsese has long admired due to his pioneering impact on the Italian neo-realist movement. Though he is a great lover of the entirety of the director’s filmography, when it comes to Scorsese’s all-time favourite Roberto Rossellini film, he chooses the 1946 war drama Paisan

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Released shortly after the end of the Second World War, Rossellini’s Paisan followed the interaction of American military personnel with the Italian locals as they pushed their way up through the South of the country, pushing out German forces. An incredible, emotionally powerful film, Roberto Rossellini’s 1946 classic is a stunning creative masterwork that infused the neo-realism movement with an audacious sense of style. 

Speaking to Criterion about the effect of the film on his career, Scorsese stated: “I was experiencing the power of cinema itself, in this case made far beyond Hollywood, under extremely tough conditions and with inferior equipment”. Continuing, the director explains how the film had such an effect on his young mind, adding “I was also seeing that cinema wasn’t just about the movie itself but the relationship between the movie and its audience”.

Continually inspired by the films of Roberto Rossellini, Scorsese’s next film looks to once again take audiences back to the remnants of classic cinema, with Killers of the Flower Moon looking like a moody, complicated period piece. Featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser and more, the film will be one of the most significant releases of 2022.

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