27 June 2005

Gangs of New York (2002)

Written by Jay Cocks
Directed by Martin Scorsese.
Starring - Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-lewis, Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent, Henry Thomas, Liam Neeson, Brendon Gleeson.

Based in New York, in Lower Manhattan's Five Points district in 1883. The story is about a young boy, Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) who watches his Father, Priest Vallon, (Liam Neeson), a Catholic Immigrant from Ireland, killed while fighting in a wild brawl against his rival, William 'Bill the Butcher' Cutting.

The Butcher is the leader of a gang called "the Natives" who believe they have a claim to the area because they were all born in the USA.
The Dead Rabbits as a gang is destroyed and never to be talked about by anyone in the Five points again.

After his Father is killed the young Amsterdam spends 12 years in a Orphanage and then as a young man is released and returns to the Five Points area. He bumps into a few old friends and eventually comes into contact with the Butcher.
Amsterdam becomes close to the Butcher who looks after the young man and teaches him how things are done. Amsterdam is getting close so he can kill the man who killed his Father.

Intertwined with the main story of the film is the sub plot showing the issues of the time, the Civil war, and it's relation to the freedom of the slaves. Scorsese brings this into the film as if what was going on in Five Points was a part of the whole of the history and birth of New York (America?), and in a way it was, but the same story could have been told in a different city in a different country anywhere in the world.
Call me a cynic but I fail to see how a couple of street gangs affected Abraham Lincoln's decision making.

Overall, Gangs of New York is quite a visually pleasing movie, nothing like a bit of blood and guts to add atmosphere ;-).
The Set and costumes were great. The designers obviously went into a lot of effort to get the detail of the era just right. It was a credit to the people who put it all together. The set and costume design both received Academy award nominations too btw.
It was filmed in Rome, Italy (Cinecitta Studios) ... who, in my opinion, did a great job.

I watched this Film not long after it was released and watched it again tonight, it's an OK film but I believe so much more could have been done with it, and Leanado De Caprio just doesn't do the tough guy bit very well. There's so many young male actors who could have played the part with a lot more plausibility. Johnny Depp, Edward Norton and Brad Pitt all would have been more suited to the part...But thats just my opinion.

If you haven't already seen the film it might be just the thing for a night in.


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