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Controversies and Masterpieces: Martin Scorsese’s Journey from Blacklisting to Banned Films


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Many masterpieces and some controversies for Martin Scorsese

During the late 1990s, Martin Scorsese directed a remarkable number of films that shaped his career. Today, the hardworking director, while preparing for his next feature film with Leonardo DiCaprio, returns to theaters with “Killers of the Flower Moon,” another film that is expected to gain recognition. However, Scorsese’s directorial career is not without its share of criticism. Among his films, there is one that even led to his complete blacklisting in a country.

Upon closer examination, Scorsese has occasionally fluctuated between creating masterpieces and producing films that fall short of expectations. As explored in another article on his journey between “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull,” it is clear that this eminent Hollywood figure is not immune to missteps. In 1995, Scorsese released his fourth masterpiece, “Casino” (the third being “The Freedmen”), which proved controversial, as is often the case with films centered around religion.

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This film about the Dalai Lama did not please the Chinese authorities, Scorsese was banned and almost took Disney with him!

Surprisingly, Martin Scorsese has faced his fair share of controversies, yet none of them have dampened the director’s passion. In 1988, his film “The Last Temptation of Christ” offended many religious individuals and led to numerous death threats against him. Although the same did not occur with “Kundun,” there were still repercussions. Shortly after “Casino,” still captivated by religion (having considered becoming a priest in his youth and even spending a year in a Catholic educational institution before being expelled), Scorsese decided to make a film about the Dalai Lama’s youth.

Similar to “The Last Temptation of Christ,” Scorsese alienated a segment of religious individuals and even an entire country. Upon the release of the film in 1997, Tibetan authorities banned Scorsese, preventing him from entering the country for over twenty-five years. Interestingly, Disney, the distributor of the film, could have faced consequences in the Chinese market due to its association with Martin Scorsese. However, only the director and screenwriter Melissa Mathison, who conducted numerous interviews prior to writing the script, were subjected to this sanction.

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