A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese (1995) by BFIfilms
in Film | January 13th, 2012
Note: If you’re having problems viewing the film, you can access it on YouTube here, here, and here.
In his 1998 essay, “Scorsese Learns From Those Who Went Before Him,” Roger Ebert writes, “There is no greater American filmmaker right now than Martin Scorsese, and hasn’t been for some time, perhaps since Welles and Hitchcock and Ford died, and yet to talk with him is like meeting this guy who hangs out all the time at the film society.”
Scorsese is a highly prolific filmmaker, but even while pressing ahead he is always looking back, revisiting the films that have inspired him since he was an asthmatic child haunting the theaters of New York City. In A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, the great director says:
I’m often asked by younger filmmakers, Why do I need to look at old movies? I’ve made a number of pictures in the past 20 years. And the response I find that I have to give them is that I still consider myself a student. The more pictures I made in the last 20 years, the more I realized that I really don’t know. And I’m always looking for something or someone that I can learn from. I tell the younger filmmakers to do it like painters do. Study the old masters. Enrich your palette. Expand the canvas. There’s always so much more to learn.
A Personal Journey was completed in 1995. The three-part documentary formed the American part of The Century of Cinema series sponsored by the British Film Institute. The film was co-directed by Michael Henry Wilson, features a title sequence by Saul Bass and was cut by Scorsese’s longtime editor, Thelma Schoonmaker. In Scorsese on Scorsese, Wilson talked with Schoonmaker about the grueling experience of editing A Personal Journey at the same time she was racing to complete the three-hour Casino. Schoonmaker said:
It was too much! At one point, Marty asked me to abandon the documentary. He was terribly worried that I’d be slowed down by A Personal Journey, another monumental job, and that we wouldn’t be able to deliver Casino on time. I told him it was impossible to stop and he agreed. He even said that in the long term, A Journey would perhaps be more important than Casino.
You can watch a 133-minute version of A Personal Journey above, courtesy of the BFI. (Be patient and allow an extra moment for the film to load.) A deluxe edition of the original 225-minute documentary is available for purchase on DVD. The version above can be permanently found in our collection of 450 Free Movies Online.