The Gangs of New York by Martin Scorsese

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Set in the turbulent streets of Lower Manhattan in the mid-nineteenth century, Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York depicts the politically corrupt and volatile social climate of New York during the early years of the Civil War. While the North is fighting in the South, the difference between the insular opulence of uptown life and the lawless destitution of those living downtown becomes more intolerable. Irish immigrants and emancipated slaves add to the swelling numbers of the poor. The city is a bomb ready to explode.

The action unfolds at the Five Points, a notoriously corrupt, gang-infested area between New York harbor and lower Broadway, where the native-born (Protestant) Americans and the Irish (Catholic) immigrants battle for control of the city. Amsterdam Vallon (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is a young Irish-American who has returned to New York, after fifteen years in a house of reform, to seek revenge against Bill the Butcher (Daniel Day-Lewis), the nativist gang leader who had killed Vallon's father. The movie follows Amsterdam as he infiltrates Bill's inner circle, falls in love with Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz), a beguiling pickpocket, and fights for the honor of his family and people. His personal struggle explodes in tandem with the 1863 draft riots, the most dramatic episode of urban unrest in American history.

Included in the book are interviews of the principal people involved with the making of the film: the director, actors, cinematographer, designers, screenwriters, and producers; the complete shooting script; a historical introduction by the writer Luc Sante, the film's technical advisor; color stills taken during the shooting; sketches of the lavish sets and costumes, and a portfolio of behind-the-scenes photographs taken by Brigitte Lacombe. This is an inside look at how an epic movie, one which the director had envisioned for twenty-five years, got made.


About Martin Scorsese

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Published January 15, 2003 by Miramax. 288 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Gangs of New York

Publishers Weekly

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Featuring interviews with almost every big job title among the cast and crew, copious production stills, the ostensibly complete screenplay and a nearly scholarly essay by New York historicist Sante, this melange of documentation and memorabilia pays homage to the epic production of Gangs of New ...

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London Review of Books

Under the headline ‘The Dead Rabbits Immortalised’, the New York Evening Post reported on 10 July 1857 that a one-penny song sheet was selling feverishly ‘in the lower part of the city’.

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National Review Online

According to Peter Rainer in New York magazine, the film has been “scrupulously researched down to the last crevice and cobblestone.” Inspired by Herbert Asbury’s history of New York’s underworld, also entitled The Gangs of New York, this excruciatingly violent movie pits American nativists again...

Jan 16 2003 | Read Full Review of The Gangs of New York

ABC Perth

It is hard to think of any filmmaker other than Martin Scorsese who could have brought Herbert Asbury's 1928 novel 'The Gangs of New York' to the big screen in such a visceral, moving and compelling way.

Feb 13 2003 | Read Full Review of The Gangs of New York

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