Martin Scorsese and the American Dream (Paperback)
More than perhaps any other major filmmaker, Martin Scorsese has grappled with the idea of the American Dream. His movies are full of working-class strivers hoping for a better life, from the titular waitress and aspiring singer of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore to the scrappy Irish immigrants of Gangs of New York. And in films as varied as Casino, The Aviator, and The Wolf of Wall Street, he vividly displays the glamour and power that can come with the fulfillment of that dream, but he also shows how it can turn into a nightmare of violence, corruption, and greed.
This book is the first study of Scorsese’s profound ambivalence toward the American Dream, the ways it drives some men and women to aspire to greatness, but leaves others seduced and abandoned. Showing that Scorsese understands the American dream in terms of a tension between provincialism and cosmopolitanism, Jim Cullen offers a new lens through which to view such seemingly atypical Scorsese films as The Age of Innocence, Hugo, and Kundun. Fast-paced, instructive, and resonant, Martin Scorsese and the American Dream illuminates an important dimension of our national life and how a great artist has brought it into focus.
About the Author
JIM CULLEN is the author of numerous books, including Those Were the Days: Why All in the Family Still Matters and From Memory to History: Television Versions of the Twentieth Century (both Rutgers University Press). He has taught at Harvard, Brown, and Sarah Lawrence College, and is a member of the faculty of the newly established Greenwich Country Day High School in Greenwich, Connecticut.
"Jim Cullen is one of the most acute cultural historians writing today. This sweeping analysis of Martin Scorsese’s films through the lens of the American Dream is a must read for the many fans of the director’s work."
— Louis P. Masur
"Martin Scorsese is a preeminent American filmmaker, and Jim Cullen is a preeminent historian of American culture. Spanning from the director's youth on the mean streets of Manhattan to the closing scene of The Irishman, this book is teeming with brilliant insight into some of the most important films of the last 50 years. Highly recommended for cinephiles and for anyone interested in the story of the American Dream."
— Jonathan D. Cohen