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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gangs of New York (2002) - A movie by Martin Scorsese, and a big commercial success

With Gangs of New York (released in 2002), Martin Scorsese was back to where he makes his mark, the gritty streets of New York, with lots of hard violence, mafia and gangs, rock music based soundtrack, and people with an inclination for violence. However, with the movie, Scorsese starred a different set of characters, with the starring roles being taken up by Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz. The movie was set at the time of the American Civil War of the 1960's, and was based on a pretty old book by Herbert Asbury, with the same name "The Gangs of New York".
This was another movie that Scorsese had been wanting to make for a long time, but kept on getting put off for various reasons (over a period of greater than 2 decades); even when the movie was finally made in 2001, the release was delayed for a period of around an year while Scorsese and the producer Harvey Weinstein negotiated on the final cuts in the movie, and the actual length of the movie. The movie was finally released to a majority of critical acclaim, although many critics found the movie not as good as some of his better movies. The movie, made at a budget just under $100 million, went on to make approximately $200 million worldwide.

The movie is about a conflict between 2 warring gangs, led by their leaders. William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a White Protestant Anglo-Saxon and leads the gangs called 'The Natives', since they are already residing there; further, Bill has a hatred of immigrants and their attempts to muscle into the territory where he is the primary gang leader. He comes into conflict with a gang comprised of recent immigrants, with the gang called "Dead Rabbits," led by Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson). He has a young son called Amsterdam (who will later become Leonardo DiCaprio when he grows up). These 2 gangs have a bloody fight in which Bill kills Vallon, witnessed by Amsterdam. Amsterdam finds the knife with which his father is killed and buries it, and then is taken to an orphanage. This entire situation is set in the year 1946.
Change to 16 years later, when Amsterdam is now an adult, the Civil War between the North and the South is in full swing, and the draft is in commission. Amsterdam finds that his father's old gang members are mostly now part of Bill's gang. Amsterdam is introduced to Bill by an old friend, Johnny (without telling Bill who Amsterdam actually is). Amsterdam also meets a pickpocket called Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz), and is attracted to her (although his friend Johnny is also attracted to her); Bill starts trusting Amsterdam more and Amsterdam keeps on gaining some amount of influence, and also saves Bill once in an assassination attempt.
Bill trusts Amsterdam enough to talk about Priest Vallon with him, including the fact that he respected Vallon, and it was that incident that gave him strength and character to fight all his enemies. The rest of the movie is about the final fight between Bill and Amsterdam, once Bill has learnt who Amsterdam actually is, while the Union Soldiers are quelling riots that have broken out in the city over the draft laws.

Gangs of New York (2002) - A movie by Martin Scorsese, and a big commercial success

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