Scorsese On Fellini

I thought the community might enjoy reading this article:

"…the art of cinema is being systematically devalued, sidelined, demeaned, and reduced to its lowest common denominator, ‘content’…As recently as fifteen years ago, the term ‘content’ was heard only when people were discussing the cinema on a serious level, and it was contrasted with and measured against ‘form.’”


“Curating isn’t undemocratic or ‘elitist,’ a term that is now used so often that it’s become meaningless. It’s an act of generosity—you’re sharing what you love and what has inspired you…Algorithms, by definition, are based on calculations that treat the viewer as a consumer and nothing else.”



I wonder, though, if that hasn’t been true since the beginning of cinema.

As for Netflix itself: Judging from the experiences of colleagues doing business with Netflix, it really has become one big equalizer of telling stories the same way, eliminating personal styles in order to mesh all of it into the one that seems to get the most viewers, thereby re-educating the viewer to only like what the majority likes. And that is a huge problem which will only become apparent once it is not considered a problem anymore.

So, Scorsese is right but has also already lost the war. Times have changed. And it is almost impossible to change back to the Fellini model. Unless huge numbers of people reject the content that is hyped most and choose many different forms of content. And that won’t happen.


I think it might have changed a little. Filmmakers in the past felt a responsibility to produce films that both acknowledged their audiences’ intelligences, and also challenged them. Today, filmmakers often cater to their audiences’ desires, and steer clear of anything too challenging, since that would alienate the audience.

Brilliant–the best analysis of the homogeneity of streaming service offerings I have ever read. The content is varied–stories and narratives that were not being told are now being told–but the templates used are the same across narratives, so that audiences will be comforted and stick around. There is no concept that different experiences can lead to not just different stories, but different formal elements (and use of such) as well.

But many of the artifacts that remain are glorious.


I wouldn’t agree. Whilst that does happen on a studio level, most filmmakers actually try to do exactly what Scorsese describes sharing what you love and what has inspired you

Scorsese is being a bit alarmist with this, and he knows better than anyone how not true it is. His last film was a Netflix movie, and he just contributed this;

For two directors whose respective works definitely do not “treat the viewer as a consumer and nothing else.”

I would agree that there are still directors out there with the power and the intent to deliver something different from the usual fare. But the number of those directors who can still get a greenlight for their vision is dwindling. Even those (including Scorsese) are faced with more opposition from the studios than ever. And most of them are nearing the end of their career. So how many of the younger ones will still be allowed to be the kind of auteur Scorsese is referring to in the future when the streamers will dominate the market?

1 Like

The same rate they have been since the 50’s. If you’re micro budget the world is your oyster - you reach big budgets then it’s a list of people who can actually make the film they wanted can be counted on one hand.

“They don’t make films like Raiders of The Lost Ark any more…no, they don’t, but they didn’t in 1981 either” as one producer pointed out, how very rare that sort of thing happens is why they’re remembered. Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg didn’t transcend the medium by making the same things other people made.

But don’t you agree that the medium-sized budget film is gone? Movies which were traditional Oscar fodder?

They are at least more rare than they were with studios grabbing directors after one surprise hit, pushing directors into a position of boom or bust. The mid budget films now only seem to happen if they have a well known actor also acting as producer;

1 Like

But how often do they succeed? You name two directors who do, and I am sure there are others. But from what I see, more and more are acceding to the formal templates that the studios/streamers expect them to follow. This problem has always existed, but the level of supervision has greatly increased over the years, with more and more layers of corporate oversight being added. By contrast, Hawks and Mankiewicz and Ford had great autonomy under the studio system of Classical Hollywood. Here is an interesting interview from last century.

Good. Nothing wrong with being alarmist when there is danger. Having lived through the onset of the AIDS crisis, I have a tendency to be pro-alarmist.

Yes, and he had to fight with them to obtain even a modest release of four weeks in a handful of theaters. And if this is how Netflix treats Martin Scorsese, how will lesser lights fare?


But that’s how it’s always been, the studio system bullies it’s way to get money. You only need to look at the Bond films to see that in practice; UA REFUSED to accept Bond could survive without Connery, so they hid Lazenby’s face on the poster, and you know better than anyone how David Picker just took executive action in casting DAF (and also screwed over Connery in his deal, but that’s a rant for another time) 80’s Bond was one long argument when the studio management changed and the new lot didn’t like Cubby.

Scorsese had that sought after preference with the previous money men, but the current roster have new favourites, so Scorsese has to fight more than perhaps he once did, but those favourites still exist. Taika Waititi is currently enjoying that with Disney; he got money and a wide release for a comedy starring Hitler from the house of mouse

And is also writing and directing a Star Wars film for them as well as his work in The Mandalorian and a TV show for FX and and and…you get the point.

The film makers able to do on a large budget what they did with none has always been a minuscule club, to pretend otherwise is just nostalgic nonsense.


Well, up to a point studios aren’t really interested in a vast pool of talent outside what they can comfortably arrange under their brand. Why risk more talent possibly ending up doing films for the competition? A certain shortage of directors and limitations to their funds helps all sides.

1 Like

There is certainly a degree of nostalgic blindsiding in Scosese´s argument.

Then again, there have been noticeable shifts in greenlighting films for name directors AND medium budgets.

While there still are outliers, encouraged by the “I do two for you, let me do one for me”-system, those films are fewer than ever, especially hindered by a lack of marketing. Sure, some of those succeed or even get award attention (“Jo-Jo Rabbit”). But most of them are treated like the independent films of the 80´s (not the 90´s when all this started). Nice to have. But in contrast to the majority of studio fare not that important anymore.

If you want to do a decently financed personal film these days, it is an even more uphill battle than ever. If you say “it´s got superheroes in it” or is part of a huge franchise… hello, we believe in your personal vision. Before we make it our vision.

Is it not the case that mid budget movies only existed because of ballooning budgets of 80s popcorn cinema, inflation and escalation, sure there were cheap movies made, exploitation, B movies to produce content. The cinema of the 80s surely is the route cause of huge budgets driving up smaller budgets leading to a stifling of creativity and a homogenised platform of streaming to make that mid budget content.
So perhaps like theatre, cinema needs a bout of poverty to jolt it back to life.

Unfortunately, the costs to produce and to market have skyrocketed. So, less money will mean less movies.

1 Like