Scorsese on reading cinema

by Toby Manhire / 01 August, 2013
The great American film-maker argues for image literacy to be taken seriously in a captivating essay.
Martin Scorsese
A Personal Journey Through American Cinema.

Something to read between film festival sessions: Martin Scorsese on “reading the language of cinema”.

In a long and lyrical essay for the New York Review of Books, the great American film-maker remembers arriving at the movies as a child.

For me it was like entering a sacred space, a kind of sanctuary where the living world around me seemed to be recreated and played out.

Making mention of everyone from Socrates to James Stewart, Scorsese resolves that image literacy should be regarded as just as important as verbal literacy.

Young people need to understand that not all images are there to be consumed like fast food and then forgotten—we need to educate them to understand the difference between moving images that engage their humanity and their intelligence, and moving images that are just selling them something


The moment has come when we have to treat every last moving image as reverently and respectfully as the oldest book in the Library of Congress.

It’s a very good read – and impossible, if you’ve heard Scorsese speak before, not to hear it in your head intonated in his inimitable, avuncular style.

As witnessed in the terrific Personal Journey Through American Cinema:
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