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A sneak-peak into Martin Scorsese’s brilliant personal movie poster collection

“Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our lifetime, we need to keep them alive.”― Martin Scorsese

Martin ‘Marty’ Scorsese and his undying love for cinema are reflected in his exceptional works of art where the unique and audacious spiritedness of the filmography has elevated him to the level of a pioneering auteur of modern cinema. This bushy-eyed demure veteran director blends in his personal experiences that he gathered growing up in a “conservative working-class” family in downtown Little Italy and produces explosive content that creates an indelible impact on the minds of the audience.

His content has been studied with utmost admiration and awe by cinephiles and film critics for decades. Scorsese’s love for cinema blossomed at a very young age when he was stuck at home due to asthma and spent his time watching films. He was infatuated with cinema and was inspired to embark on this long and arduous yet exceedingly rewarding odyssey of making films, gradually becoming one of the greatest auteurs of all time, who is loved and respected by all. Having battled heavyweight contemporaries in the industry, he has established himself and cemented his legacy which has been a source of inspiration to countless filmmakers. 

Cinema, as Scorsese’s paramour, should, according to him, “fulfil a spiritual need that people have to share a common memory”. Unsurprisingly, Scorsese’s favourite film genres are crime and film noir; those who are fairly familiar with his work will be in agreement. He is known for collaborating with the same actors frequently and some of his most frequent collaborators include Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Frank Vincent and a handful of others. However, the auteur has never shied away from dauntlessly venturing into other genres, irrespective of the box office success.

Over the years, he has transcended the boundaries within which one can be typecast and his films can be located throughout the wide spectrum. From indulging in violent noir films such as Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets to aristocratic love stories, namely The Age of Innocence, Scorsese has also ventured into telling spiritually enticing gates about the conflict between divinity and humanity in Kundun and Silence. He has also commented on dysfunctional families and motherhood in films such as Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore while infusing humour into a scathing tale about the fraudulent stockbroker Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of the Wall Street, while playing on a character’s psychological descent and frenzy in Shutter Island

With 25 feature films to his name and with the 26th feature film on its way, in which he again collaborates with his all-time favourites Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon, Scorsese draws focus on the 1920 FBI investigations into the Oklahoma murders related to oil deposits. He has often complained about how cinema is slowly and “systematically [being] devalued, sidelined, demeaned and reduced to its lowest common denominator: ‘content’” with the advent of streaming platforms and other film studios rushing against time to produce content in bulk, without paying attention to the form. His passion for filmmaking and all things cinema can be derived from the hurt in his tone as he further elaborated on the dangers posed by the algorithm to cinema as well as how the people in the media companies “knew nothing about the history of the art form or even cared enough to think that they should” started emphasising on content, thus disrespecting cinema. 

(Credit: Museum of Modern Art)

Quite recently, the auteur expressed his displeasure about superhero films and incurred criticism when he likened the films from the Marvel franchise to “theme parks” and refused to call them cinema. “Today, that tension is gone, and there are some in the business with absolute indifference to the very question of art and an attitude toward the history of cinema that is both dismissive and proprietary — a lethal combination”, he said, further adding: “The situation, sadly, is that we now have two separate fields: There’s worldwide audiovisual entertainment, and there’s cinema. They still overlap from time to time, but that’s becoming increasingly rare. And I fear that the financial dominance of one is being used to marginalise and even belittle the existence of the other.”

An avid fanboy of cinema, Martin Scorsese has a carefully curated poster collection that was recently showcased to the world by the Museum of Modern Art gallery. They displayed the filmmaker’s iconic poster collection that the auteur has amassed over the decades of being in love with films.

The exhibition, which is called Scorsese Collects, collected 34 posters from various films that have created an impact on the director. While the gallery is aesthetically pleasing to cinephiles and film lovers, it is also the reflection of Scorsese’s deep-seated love for glamour, colour, imagery, heightened spectrum of violence and sex, technicolour and cinematography. On one of the walls, Scorsese explains that “photographs from Deem Taylor’s A Pictorial History of Movies inspired him until films played into my dreams”, and film posters shared the same imagery and hallucinatory quality as the films he most admired. He even describes the 1946 film poster of Duel in the Sun as ones reeking with “bright blasts of deliriously vibrant colour, the gunshots, the savage intensity…the burning sun, the overt sexuality”.

Despite the widely different graphic style of the posters he amassed, they all are in concord with his observation about American filmmakers being interested “in creating diction than in revealing reality” as the posters see a conglomeration of exaggerated glamour, colour, sex, violence, figures which add a larger-than-life effect. 

In Scorsese Collects, as displayed in the MoMA gallery, these are the 34 film posters that constitute Martin Scorsese’s unique poster collection that had been curated by the legendary auteur himself. 

Martin Scorsese’s personal film poster collection:

  • Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)
  • The Lost Squadron (Richard Dix, 1932)
  • The Four Feathers (Zoltan Korda, 1939)
  • Ex-Champ (Phil Rosen, 1939) 
  • The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
  • Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)
  • Le Plaisir (Max Ophuls, 1952) 
  • La Ronde (Max Ophuls, 1950)
  • The Earrings of Madame De (Max Ophuls, 1953)
  • The Red Shoes (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1948)
  • T-Men (Anthony Mann, 1947)
  • The Tales of Hoffmann (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1951)
  • The Elusive Corporal (Jean Renoir, 1962)
  • Leon Morin, Priest (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1961)
  • Black Narcissus (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1947)
  • A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1946)
  • 49th Parallel (Michael Powell, 1941)
  • Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis, 1950)
  • The Killers (Don Siegel, 1964) 
  • The Regeneration (William Fox, 1915)
  • The Upturned Glass (Lawrence Huntington, 1947)
  • The Thief of Bagdad (Michael powell, Ludwig Berger, Tim Whelan, Zoltan Korda, Alexander Korda, Willia Cameron Menzies, 1940)
  • It Always Rains On Sunday (Robert Hamer, 1947)
  • The Leopard Man (Jacques Tourneur, 1943)
  • I Walked With A  Zombie (Jacques Tourneur, 1943)
  • The Phantom of the Opera (Arthur Lubin, 1943)
  • Scarface (Howard Hawks, 1932)
  • Cat People (Jacques Tourneur, 1942)
  • Les Yeux Sans Visage (Georges Franju, 1960) 
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
  • The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)
  • Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941)
  • Fronte del Porto On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954)
  • Duel in the Sun (King Vidor, William Dieterle, 1946)
(Credit: Museum of Modern Art)
(Credit: Museum of Modern Art)
(Credit: Museum of Modern Art)
(Credit: Museum of Modern Art)
(Credit: Museum of Modern Art)