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Martin Scorsese suggests regret over divisive psychological thriller

Scorsese appeared to make the admission in a new interview promoting ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

Jacob Stolworthy
Saturday 30 September 2023 09:56 BST
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Killers of the Flower Moon trailer

Martin Scorsese has revealed he regrets one of his many collaborations with Leonardo DiCaprio in a thoughtful interview reflecting on his six-decade career.

The legendary filmmaker, 80, who has directed DiCaprio eight times, including in his most recent drama, Killers of the Flower Moon, admitted that in recent years, he has soured on one particular release.

Speaking with GQ, Scorsese looked back on the psychological thriller Shutter Island, and suggested he should not have agreed to direct it.

According to the director, he made the decision in the wake of his long-awaited Oscars success.

Riding high after winning his first Best Director trophy for the 2006 crime drama The Departed, Scorsese felt “encouraged” to take on Shutter Island – but, in hindsight, wishes he had attached himself to a different project instead.

He told the outlet that winning the Oscar “encouraged me to make another picture with Shutter Island”, but “it turned out I should have gone on probably to do Silence”.

Silence was Scorsese’s passion project, starring Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield, that he made in 2016. An adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s novel of the same name, the film follows two Jesuit priests as they travel to Japan on a mission to locate their mentor.

Shutter Island, based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name, received generally positive reviews upon its release in 2011, and was even chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top 10 films of the year.

However, in recent years, it appears to be increasingly considered a lesser work of the director’s when compared with his more critically acclaimed works, including Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980) and The Age of Innocence (1993).

It’s also the filmmaker’s only narrative feature film, released in the last two decades, to have received zero Oscar nominations.

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Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of ‘Shutter Island’ (Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock)

It’s unclear whether Scorsese’s comments were also alluding to the two films he made before 2016’s Silence – Hugo (2011) and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Elsewhere in the new interview, Scorsese also addressed several of his other collaborations with DiCaprio, the first of which arrived in 2002 with Gangs of New York – a shoot the director says he struggled with due to the interventions of producer Harvey Weinstein.

In the interview, Scorsese said Weinstein’s meddling, which saw him make demands over the film’s budget and runtime, made him “realise that I couldn’t work if I had to make films that way ever again”.

He added: “If that was the only way that I was able to be allowed to make films, then I’d have to stop. Because the results weren’t satisfying. It was at times extremely difficult, and I wouldn’t survive it. I’d be dead. And so I decided it.”

However, Scorsese was lured back by The Aviator (2004), his second collaboration with DiCaprio, in which he was “forced” to work with Weinstein again. The director said the shoot went well until the final few weeks of the edit when Weinstein’s company at the time, Miramax, “came in and did some things that I felt were extremely mean”.

Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s new film ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ (Apple TV+)

Scorsese suggests in the interview that, despite struggles on both Gangs of New York and The Aviator, he is happy with the result of both films. But he did reveal that he resisted studio demands to completely change the ending of The Departed.

Killers of the Flower Moon is an adaptation of David Grann’s non-fiction book documenting the string of murders that plagued the Osage Indian tribe in Oklahoma during the 1920s after oil was found on their land. The case was deemed the FBI’s first homicide investigation.

The Independent’s film critic Clarisse Loughrey, in her five-star review, said the film carries Scorsese’s “tradition fixations: the rotted core of man’s heart; how power breeds the impulse for destruction; the myths of cowboys and outlaws and the dirty truth to them”.

Killers of the Flower Moon will be the 80-year-old filmmaker’s first film since The Irishman, which was released in 2019. It’s set to be released theatrically on 20 October ahead of its premiere on Apple TV+.

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