The bulk of the video, however, is wonderfully interactive, with Schoonmaker walking the audience through a number of signature Scorsese sequences: the three stylistically distinct Sugar Ray Robinson fight scenes from Raging Bull; the Steadicam tracking shot that kicks off the Copacabana scene in Goodfellas; and a centerpiece crash sequence from The Aviator, which Schoonmaker playfully admits is probably the reason she won the Oscar. Ever-modest, Schoonmaker analyzes these clips with significant generosity toward her collaborators. She attributes Raging Bull’s famous animal noises to sound editor Frank Warner (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), who retired from the industry in the late-‘80s. She also sings the praises of Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci’s improvisatory talents; her reading of the “You think I’m funny?” back-and-forth from Goodfellas is a nice introduction to the art of editing improvised performances. Perhaps naturally, Schoonmaker also expresses a bit of disillusionment regarding what she calls the industry’s current standard of “food-blender” editing. —Danny King
Watch the discussion in full by clicking on the image below.
Film editor Thelma Schoonmaker’s collaboration with Martin Scorsese is one of the most enduring and fruitful in the history of film. The two met at New York University in the 1960s, and Schoonmaker edited Scorsese’s first feature, Who’s That Knocking at My Door? (1967). She won the first of three Academy Awards for editing the masterpiece Raging Bull (1980), and she has cut all of Scorsese’s films since, winning Oscars for her work on The Aviator (2005) and The Departed (2006). She spoke at the Museum of the Moving Image just before the release of Gangs of New York (2002). —Museum of the Moving Image
The clip is from The Scorsese Machine (1990). Labarthe filmed Scorsese soon after the “scandal” of The Last Temptation of Christ had begun to die down. Not sure which approach to use for the film, Labarthe and his crew simply went to Scorsese’s office and began shooting him moving around, watching rushes, etc. At the end of the first day’s shoot, Scorsese asked whether or not Labarthe was going to ask any questions; “No,” Labarthe replied, just speak whenever you feel like it. And that became the approach to this, one of the most widely-seen episodes in the magnificent series Cinéma, de notre temps. Less an introduction to Scorsese’s work than to his world, the film includes a wonderful visit with Scorsese’s parents.