Modern Culture13 Nov 2008 11:01 am
A new edition of The Intellectual Devotional, this time with a focus on Modern Culture, is now available in stores. (Click here to pre-order your copy.) As well as continuing to expand on posts from the General Edition, “The Devoted Intellect” blog will introduce and expand on material from the Modern Culture devotional. Today’s entry on Martin Scorsese is from the “Film” section.
Over the past few years, film lovers throughout the world, and Chicago film lovers in particular, have received a steady-stream of sad news about one of the greatest film lovers of all time: Roger Ebert. In 2002, Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Over the next few years, he endured a number of operations and a few close calls. In 2006, he stopped appearing on his iconic show after his latest operation made it impossible for him to speak. But he was not completely silenced. Ebert returned to print with his review of The Queen (he gave it a thumbs up) and, in 2008, he released a book about one of his heroes: Martin Scorsese.
In 1967, Ebert reviewed Scorsese’s film I Call First. It was one of the first reviews Ebert wrote, and the first Scorsese received. Ebert described the film as a landmark in American cinema: a synthesis of the technical achievement of traditional films like Marty and On the Waterfront and the freshness and spontaneity of experimental films like The Connection and Shadows. Without reservation, Ebert called the I Call First “a great moment in American film.” And who produced this moment? “Remarkably, writer-director Martin Scorsese is only 25 years old, and this is his first film.” Ebert was the same age, and also at the beginning of his career. Over the next four decades, Scorsese would direct some of the greatest films, and Ebert would always be close behind with his opinion.
The culmination of this relationship is Scorsese, Ebert’s comprehensive study of the director. The book begins with the fact that the two men were born only five months apart, but the comparison Ebert draws runs deeper. Both men were raised Roman Catholic, attended Catholic schools, learned the Catechism by rote, and did all of this in the days before Vatican II. “We were baffled by the concept of Forever, and asked how it was that God could have no beginning and no end.” They both took their Catholic sensibility to the movies, and all of us — Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Hindus and unbelievers — are richer for it.
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