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Free The Works of Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee Essay Sample

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Thesis statement

The similarity shared by Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee, brings to light the details of their work as most of the films they have worked on are set in Brooklyn and New York, share the central themes and the qualities of the main characters.

The films written and directed by Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee have some similarity. The movies are set in the same environment. They are set in Brooklyn New York in America. This shades some light on the work of these two directors. This paper discusses some of the similarities by addressing the themes, settings and the characters used in their major films.

Using New York as his backdrop, Scorsese has created land mark films that explore the intricacies of specific human qualities, tightly connected to themes of identity, religion and psychology. Mean streets, taxi driver and life lessons are examples that bear the distinct signature of an artist with a message that is clearly influenced by the dynamics of the inimitable lifestyle of New York City.


In all Scorsese subsequent films, the much violent and emotional turmoil that serve as a climax have a kind of cleansing effect. This brings out psychological problems of the main characters. The epilogues of these films solve the essential problems of the characters creating an impression of unity and order. Mean Streets ends with the shoot out perpetrated on the main characters. This ends the film in total disarray.

GoodFellas, an American Gangster film centers on three wise gangsters on the streets of New York. It is about armed robbery and drug trade basically crime life.  In order for one to climb up the mob hierarchy, a killing of the others involved in the robbery is inevitable. The hilarious life of the actual gangster Henry Hill is brought out from his teen years on New York's streets to his anonymous exile. The gangsters spent most of their nights at Copacabana with different women (Scorsese and Brunette 102).

Taxi Driver is another hilarious movie directed by Scorsese.  Travis a cab driver works at night and spends the day watching pornographic movies at seedy cinemas or thing about the world. He particularly thinks about how New York has deteriorated in terms of morals. He is ready to clean this mess up and attempts to save a teenage prostitute who he believes shouldn't be in that profession.

"She Gotta Have It," (Scorsese 39) is a movie directed by Spike Lee.  It is set in New York Brooklyn streets. Nola Darling gets involved in a sexual relationship with three different guys. Her relationship with the three men is thrilling. The three guys want her to commit herself to them but she refuses to be owned by a single of them.

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Scorsese and Lee's works brings out their urge to end the mess that exists. Malcolm X for instance, after involving himself in burglary, was sent to jail as a disciplinary and correctional measure. Malcolm X changed and converted fully to Islam religion and did what it entailed with utmost devotion. He used to smoke but stopped after realizing that the Islam religion forbids that (Monica 259).

Raging Bull brings in a talented fighter who gains fame by becoming a middleweight champion. His accomplishments however, are undermined by his domestic problems. His wife is involved in a sexual relationship with his brother and he ends up alone.

Malcolm X is about a gangster who becomes a burglar after his father was killed and ends up in jail where he changes to the Islam religion. He is assassinated and murdered. Do the Right Thing, involves violence just like in the other movies that are set in New York.

Because of the similarity shared in the setting of their films, the themes carried in their works are similar. The theme of crime for instance is brought out clearly in both Scorsese and Lee's films. Their films carry violent robberies, fights, killings and drug trade for instance in GoodFellas and Malcolm X (Lee and Fuchs 146).

The theme of promiscuity is also brought out clearly in Scorsese and Lee's films. We encounter scenes of prostitution. This can be seen in lee's She Gotta Have It and Scorsese Taxi Driver. Infidelity is brought out in relationships that exist in those works. In raging bull for instance, LaMotta's wife gets sexually involved with his brother (Scorsese 23). The Taxi Driver also tries to clean unwanted mess. Travis decides to get iris from the prostitution work because he believes she is young and does not deserve to be there. This brings to light what the two directors have in mind.

The similarity in their work shows the preference in choice of character. The two directors choose characters that are portrayed mainly to come from low social class homes. These is to enable them create a scenery which brings their themes more clearly. The characters are gangsters who hustle in the streets by having to fight, rob or kill to get what they need.

The similarity in the setting of their work reflects their training. Both Scorsese and Spike Lee studied at New York University. The similarity in choice of setting has influenced the plot of their movies, their choice of characters and thematic description which may be further influenced by their trainers or what they covered in the university.

The characters depicted by Scorsese and Lee to come from the poor side of the town are the ones who bring out the hardcore gangster life that most low status areas experience. They are involved in burglary, killing and prostitution. They do this by targeting the rich, people who come from the high social status estates. The characters do this to enable them get their basic needs and a times just for the sake of it.

The similarity in the setting employed by the two directors brings out the moral decadence in the town they have chosen to work in. People no longer care about moral values as long as they get what they want. Humanity is not regarded compared to materialistic things. The residents in that setting care for humanity only when their needs have been met.

Spike Lee and Scorsese through the similarity of the settings they use, bring out illustrations of ethnic incompatibility and diversity that has been taken as a threat to the American dream. What seems to fuel such a situation is the perennial conflict between the blacks and whites. This is clearly brought out in Lee's Do The Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991) and Scorsese's Taxi Driver. The undercurrents that flow beneath the violence in the settings are related to questions of racial definition, privilege and inadequacy between African Americans, Whites and Italian Americans.

Scorsese and Lee's works bring out the hood chronotype, the urban setting and contemporary time frame. This is particularly relevant in hood films that present the truth as it is. This is effectively brought out by setting up of dialogue between the setting's present and past life.

The similarity in setting used by the two directors explains the social, economic and political situations that have become hallmarks in their work. New York, as it has been used by Scorsese and Lee, has both high and low social statuses. This is determined by the socio-economic well being of the people shaped by the political system of the town. As nature always has, it rich belongs to the high social status while the poor belong to the low social status. Therefore, both directors could be said to have the same ideas shaping and informing their work. Somehow in real life, they seem to share a personality. They are both concerned by societal issues and go to great lengths to vividly express them through their work.

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