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Gangs of New York

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Produced by Alberto Grimaldi
Harvey Weinstein
Written by Jay Cocks
Steven Zaillian
Kenneth Lonergan
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio
Daniel Day-Lewis
Cameron Diaz
John C. Reilly
Henry Thomas
Jim Broadbent
Liam Neeson
Brendan Gleeson
Barbara Bouchet
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Michael Ballhaus
Editing by Thelma Schoonmaker
Studio Miramax Films
Intermedia Films
Initial Entertainment Group
Distributed by Miramax Films (USA)
Entertainment Film Distributors (UK)
Release date(s) December 20, 2002 (2002-12-20)
Running time 166 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $97 million
Gross revenue $193,772,504

Gangs of New York is a 2002 American historical film set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of New York City. It was directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan. The film was inspired by Herbert Asbury's 1928 nonfiction book The Gangs of New York. It was made in Cinecittà, Rome and distributed by Miramax Films and was nominated for numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The film begins in 1846 and quickly jumps to the early 1860s. The two principal issues of the era in New York were Irish immigration to the city and the Federal government's execution of the ongoing Civil War. The story follows gang leader Bill "The Butcher" Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) in his roles as crime boss and political kingmaker under the helm of "Boss" Tweed (Jim Broadbent). The film culminates in a violent confrontation between Cutting and his mob with the protagonist Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his immigrant allies, which coincides with the New York Draft Riots of 1863.

Contents

Plot

In 1846, in Lower Manhattan's "Five Points" district, a territorial war raging for years between the "Natives" (comprising those born in the United States) and recently arrived Irish Catholic immigrants, is about to come to a head in Paradise Square. The Natives are led by William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant with an open hatred of recent immigrants. The leader of the immigrant Irish, the "Dead Rabbits," is Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson), who has a young son, Amsterdam (played as a child by Cian McCormack). Cutting and Vallon meet with their respective gangs in a horrific and bloody battle, concluding when Bill kills Priest Vallon, which Amsterdam witnesses. Cutting declares the Dead Rabbits outlawed and orders Vallon's body be buried with honor. Amsterdam seizes the knife that kills his father, races off and buries it. He is found and taken to the orphanage at Hellgate.

Sixteen years later, Amsterdam returns to New York as a grown man (Leonardo DiCaprio) in the second year of the Civil War. It is September, 1862, days after the Battle of Antietam and the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation. Arriving in Five Points, he reunites with an old friend, Johnny Sirocco (Henry Thomas). Johnny, now a member of a clan of pickpockets and thieves, introduces Amsterdam to Bill the Butcher, for whom the group steals. Amsterdam finds many of his father's old loyalists are now under Bill's control, including Happy Jack Mulraney (John C. Reilly), now a corrupt city constable and in Bill's pocket, and McGloin (Gary Lewis), now one of Bill's lieutenants. Amsterdam soon works his way into the Butcher's inner circle. Amsterdam learns that each year, on the anniversary of the Five Points battle (February 16), Bill leads the city in saluting the victory over the Dead Rabbits, and he makes plans to kill the Butcher during this ceremony, in front of the entire Five Points community, in order to exact public revenge.

Amsterdam meets Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz), a pickpocket and a grifter. Amsterdam is attracted to Jenny (as is Johnny), but his interest is dampened when Amsterdam discovers Jenny was once the Butcher's ward and still enjoys Bill's affections. Amsterdam gains Bill's confidence as Bill becomes his mentor. He becomes involved in the semi-criminal empire of William M. Tweed (Jim Broadbent) also known as "Boss" Tweed, a corrupt politician who heads Tammany Hall, the local political machine. Tweed's influence is spread throughout Lower Manhattan from boxing matches to sanitation services and fire control. As Tammany Hall and its opponents fight for control of the city, the political climate is boiling. Immigrants, mostly Irish, are drafted into the Union Army as they depart the boats. Three hundred dollars can buy one's way out of service, which only the wealthy can afford. Anti-black sentiment runs rampant through the Five Points, as does a general hatred of the upper class.

During a performance of Uncle Tom's Cabin Amsterdam thwarts an assassination attempt that leaves the Butcher wounded. Amsterdam is tormented by the realization he acted more out of honest devotion to Bill than from his own plan of revenge. Both retire to a brothel, where Jenny nurses Bill. Amsterdam confronts Jenny over Bill, and the two have a furious argument which dissolves into passionate lovemaking. Late that night, Amsterdam wakes to find Bill sitting by his bed in a rocking chair, draped in a tattered American flag. Bill speaks of the downfall of civilization and how he has maintained his power over the years through violence and the "spectacle of fearsome acts". He says Priest Vallon was the last enemy he ever fought who was worthy of real respect, and the Priest once beat Bill soundly and then let him live in shame rather than kill him. Bill credits the incident with giving him strength of will and character to return and fight for his own authority. Bill implicitly admits he has come to look upon Amsterdam as the son he never had.

The evening of the ceremony arrives. Johnny, who is in love with Jenny, reveals Amsterdam's true identity to Bill in a fit of jealousy and tells Bill of his plot to kill him. Bill baits Amsterdam with a knife-throwing act involving Jenny, where he targets her and throws the knife to leave a superficial cut on her throat. As Bill makes the customary toast, Amsterdam throws a knife at Bill, which Bill easily deflects, and counters with a knife throw of his own, hitting Amsterdam in the abdomen. Bill then repeatedly beats and head butts him as the crowd cheers him on. The Butcher proclaims that having Amsterdam live in shame is a fate worse than death as, "A freak. Worthy of Barnum's museum of wonders" before burning his cheek with a hot blade.

Afterwards, Jenny and Amsterdam go into hiding. Jenny takes care of Amsterdam and nurses him back to health. She implores him to join her in an escape to San Francisco. The two are visited by Walter "Monk" McGinn (Brendan Gleeson), a barber who worked as a mercenary for Priest Vallon in the Battle of the Five Points. McGinn gives Amsterdam a straight razor that belonged to his father. Amsterdam announces his return by placing a dead rabbit on a fence in Paradise Square. The rabbit finds its way to Bill, who sends Happy Jack to find out who sent the message. Jack tracks down Amsterdam and chases him through the catacombs into the local church where Amsterdam ambushes and strangles him. He hangs his body in Paradise Square for all to see. Still angry over Johnny not informing him about Amsterdam sooner, Bill has Johnny beaten nearly to death and impaled on a fence in retaliation. Amsterdam is left to end his friend's suffering by shooting him.

The Natives march to the Catholic church as the Irish, along with the Archbishop, stand on the steps in defense. Bill promises to return when they are ready, and the incident garners newspaper coverage. Boss Tweed approaches Amsterdam with a plan to defeat Bill and his influence, hoping to cash in on the publicity: Tweed will back the candidacy of Monk McGinn for sheriff in return for the support of the Irish vote. On election day both Bill and Amsterdam force people to vote, some of them several times, and the result is Monk winning by more votes than there are voters. Humiliated, Bill confronts Monk who fails to respond to the violent challenge, suggesting they discuss the matter democratically. Whereupon Bill throws a meat cleaver into Monk's back before finishing him off with his own shillelagh. During Monk's subsequent funeral, Amsterdam issues a traditional challenge to fight, which Bill accepts.

The film's final shot, including the World Trade Center.

The New York Draft Riots break out just as the gangs are preparing to fight. Many people of the city, particularly upper-class citizens and African-Americans, are attacked by those protesting the Enrollment Act of 1863. Union Army soldiers march through the city streets trying to control the rioters.

For Bill and Amsterdam, however, what matters is settling their own scores. As the rival gangs meet in Paradise Square, they are interrupted by cannon fire from Union naval ships in the harbor firing directly into Paradise Square. Many are killed by the cannons, as an enormous cloud of dust and debris covers the area. The destruction is followed by a wave of Union soldiers, who wipe out many of the gang members. Abandoning their gangs, Amsterdam and Bill exchange blows in the haze, then are thrown to the ground by another cannon blast. When the smoke clears, Bill discovers he has been impaled by a large piece of shrapnel. He declares, "Thank God, I die a true American." Amsterdam draws a knife from his boot and stabs Bill, who dies with his hand locked in Amsterdam's.

The dead are collected for burial. Bill's body is buried in Brooklyn, in view of the Manhattan skyline, adjacent to the grave of Priest Vallon. Jenny and Amsterdam visit as Amsterdam buries his father's razor. Amsterdam narrates New York would be rebuilt, but they are no longer remembered, as if "we were never here".

The scene then shifts over the next hundred years, giving a view as modern New York is built up from the Brooklyn Bridge to the World Trade Center, and the graves of Bill Cutting and Priest Vallon are gradually overgrown by bushes and weeds.

Cast

Production

Initial Attempts

While house-sitting for a Long Island friend on New Year's Eve 1974, Martin Scorsese discovered Herbert Asbury's historical non-fiction book The Gangs of New York and decided to adapt it into a film.[1] With Jay Cocks, he completed a first draft in 1976. Impressed with A Clockwork Orange and O Lucky Man!, Scorsese intended to cast Malcolm McDowell as Amsterdam. However, this planned adaptation never advanced into pre-production stage, because Scorsese was working on Taxi Driver. Later, Robert De Niro was considered for either Amsterdam and Bill Cutting, and the film was planned to be produced in 1980 or 1981. However, the poor response to Heaven's Gate made the studios wary about historical period dramas. Instead, Scorsese and De Niro went on to film Raging Bull.

Scorsese later tried to get Gangs of New York into production in the mid-1980s with Mel Gibson as Amsterdam and Willem Dafoe as Bill Cutting, but this never came to pass after The Last Temptation of Christ began production in 1987. In 1999, Scorsese and Cocks completed a revised draft of the script, and the film went into production in 2000. Having worked with Leonardo DiCaprio in This Boy's Life, De Niro recommended the young actor for the part of Amsterdam.

Release

After post-production was nearly completed in 2001, the film was shelved for over a year. The official justification was, after the September 11, 2001 attacks certain elements of the picture may have made audiences uncomfortable.[2] (Indeed, the film's closing shot is a view of modern-day New York City, complete with the World Trade Center Towers, despite their having been leveled by the September 11, 2001 attacks a year before the film's release. Scorsese chose to end the shot there because he "wanted to make a film about the ones who built New York, not the ones who tried to destroy it.")[3]

Nevertheless, rumors abounded the delay was due to ongoing disputes between producer Harvey Weinstein and Scorsese, and Weinstein's demand Scorsese make cuts to the film. Some of these cuts were eventually made. In December 2001, Jeffrey Wells (then of Kevin Smith's website) reviewed a purported work print of the film as it existed in the fall of 2001. Wells reported the work print lacked narration, was about 20 minutes longer, and although it was "different than the [theatrical] version ... scene after scene after scene play[s] exactly the same in both." Despite the similarities, Wells found the work print to be richer and more satisfying than the theatrical version. While Scorsese has stated the theatrical version is his final cut, he reportedly "passed along [the] three-hour-plus [work print] version of Gangs on tape [to friends] and confided, 'Putting aside my contractual obligation to deliver a shorter, two-hour-and-forty-minute version to Miramax, this is the version I'm happiest with,' or words to that effect."[2]

In an interview with Roger Ebert, Scorsese clarified the real issues in the cutting of the film. Ebert notes,

"His discussions with Weinstein, he said, were always about finding the length where the picture worked. When that got to the press, it was translated into fights. The movie is currently 168 minutes long, he said, and that is the right length, and that's why there won't be any director's cut — because this is the director's cut."[4]

While the film has been released on DVD and Blu-ray disc, there are no plans to revisit the theatrical cut or prepare a "director's cut" for home video release. "Marty doesn't believe in that," editor Thelma Schoonmaker stated. "He believes in showing only the finished film."[2]

Reception

Box office performance

The film made $77,812,000 in Canada and the United States. It also took $23,763,699 in Japan and $16,358,580 in the United Kingdom. Worldwide the film grossed a total of $193,772,504.[5]

Critical reception

Reviews of the eventual release in 2002 were generally positive — the review aggregating website Rotten Tomatoes reporting 76% of the 184 reviews that they tallied were favorable. The RT Critical Consensus reads, "Though flawed, the sprawling, messy Gangs of New York is redeemed by impressive production design and Day-Lewis's electrifying performance."[6]

Roger Ebert praised the film but believed it fell short of Scorsese's best work, while his At the Movies co-star Richard Roeper called it a "masterpiece" and declared it a leading contender for Best Picture.[7] Paul Clinton of CNN called the film "a grand American epic."[8] Todd McCarthy singled out the meticulous attention to historical detail and production design for particular praise.[9]

Some critics, however, were disappointed with the film, complaining that it fell well short of the hype surrounding it, that it tried to tackle too many themes without saying anything unique about them, and that the overall story was weak.[10]

Awards

Wins

Nominations

Historical accuracy

Scorsese has received both praise and criticism for historical depictions in the film. In a PBS interview for the History News Network, George Washington University professor Tyler Anbinder discussed the historical aspects of the film.[35]

Set of Gangs of New York in Cinecittà Studios, Rome

Anbinder said that Scorsese's recreation of the visual environment of mid-19th century New York City and the Five Points "couldn't have been much better".[35] All sets were built completely on the exterior stages of Cinecittà Studios in Rome.[36] Anbinder also praised the depiction of the persecution and discrimination against immigrants at the time, particularly the Irish. By 1860, New York City had 200,000 Irish, in a population of 800,000.[37] The riot which opens the film, though fictional, was "reasonably true to history" for fights of this type, except for the amount of carnage depicted in the gang fights and city riots.[35]

In 1850, New York City recorded more than 200 gang wars fought largely by youth gangs.[38] As early as 1839, Mayor Philip Hone declared: "This city is infested by gangs of hardened wretches" who "patrol the streets making nights hideous and insulting all who are not strong enough to defend themselves."[39] The large gang fight depicted in the film as occurring in 1846 is fictional, though there was one between the Bowery Boys and Dead Rabbits in the Five Points on July 4, 1857, which is not mentioned in the film.[40]

William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting was inspired by William Poole, a member of the Bowery Boys, a bare-knuckle boxer, and a leader of the Know Nothing political movement. Poole did not come from the Five Points and was assassinated nearly a decade before the Draft Riots. Both the fictional Bill and the real one had butcher shops, but Poole is not known to have killed anyone.[41][42]

The movie references the infamous Tweed Courthouse, as "Boss" Tweed refers to plans for the structure as being "modest" and "economical".

In the movie, Chinese American people were common enough in New York to have their own community and public venues. However, significant Chinese immigration to the city didn't begin until 1869, the time when the transcontinental railroad was completed. The Chinese theater on Pell St. also wasn't finished until the 1890s.[43]

P. T. Barnum's museum is shown being burned down during the Draft Riots. Though this is fictional, Barnum's American Museum was demolished by fire two years later, on July 13, 1865.

The Old Brewery, the overcrowded tenement shown in the movie in both 1846 and 1862–3, was actually demolished in 1852.[44]

The depicted naval bombardment of Paradise Square did not occur. State and Federal troops did kill many protesters, but historical liberties are taken with the final scene in which Union soldiers fire upon the rioters.[citation needed]

See also

References

  1. ^ Gangs of New York audio commentary
  2. ^ a b c http://www.quickstopentertainment.com/elsewhere/33.html Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere: "Gangs vs. Gangs"
  3. ^ Internet Movie Database Gangs of New York trivia
  4. ^ http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20021215/PEOPLE/212010305
  5. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=gangsofnewyork.htm
  6. ^ Gangs of New York Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper. "At the Movies: Gangs of New York". http://bventertainment.go.com/tv/buenavista/atm/reviews.html?sec=6&subsec=Gangs+of+New+York. Retrieved 2002-12-20. 
  8. ^ Paul Clinton. "Review: Epic 'Gangs' Oscar-worthy effort". http://archives.cnn.com/2002/SHOWBIZ/Movies/12/19/sproject.ca02.gangs.review/index.html. Retrieved 2002-12-19. 
  9. ^ Todd McCarthy. "Review: Gangs of New York Review". http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117919499.html?categoryid=31&cs=1. Retrieved 2002-12-05. 
  10. ^ "Gangs of New York negative reviews". http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/gangs_of_new_york/?page=2&critic=approved&sortby=rotten&name_order=asc&view=#contentReviews. 
  11. ^ a b [1]
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ [3]
  14. ^ [4]
  15. ^ [5]
  16. ^ [6]
  17. ^ [7]
  18. ^ [8]
  19. ^ [9]
  20. ^ [10]
  21. ^ [11]
  22. ^ a b [12]
  23. ^ [13]
  24. ^ [14]
  25. ^ [15]
  26. ^ [16]
  27. ^ [17]
  28. ^ [18]
  29. ^ [19]
  30. ^ [20]
  31. ^ [21]
  32. ^ [22]
  33. ^ [23]
  34. ^ [24]
  35. ^ a b c History News Network
  36. ^ Mixing Art and a Brutal History
  37. ^ The New York Irish, Ronald H. Bayor and Timothy Meagher, eds. (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996)
  38. ^ "19th century AD." Adolescence, Summer, 1995 by Ruskin Teeter.
  39. ^ Gangs, Crime, Smut, Violence. The New York Times. September 20, 1990.
  40. ^ Virtual New York City, CUNY VNY: Riots
  41. ^ Herbert Asbury website Gangs of New York
  42. ^ Herbert Asbury website Bill the Butcher
  43. ^ Hamill, Pete. "Trampling city's history." New York Daily News. Retrieved on October 4, 2009.
  44. ^ R. K. Chin, "A Journey Through Chinatown."

External links


Gangs of New York
File:Gangs
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Produced by Alberto Grimaldi
Harvey Weinstein
Written by Jay Cocks
Steven Zaillian
Kenneth Lonergan
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio
Daniel Day-Lewis
Cameron Diaz
John C. Reilly
Henry Thomas
Jim Broadbent
Liam Neeson
Brendan Gleeson
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Michael Ballhaus
Editing by Thelma Schoonmaker
Studio Miramax Films
Intermedia Films
Initial Entertainment Group
Distributed by Miramax Films (USA)
Entertainment Film Distributors (UK)
Release date(s) December 20, 2002 (2002-12-20)
Running time 166 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $97 million
Gross revenue $193,772,504

Gangs of New York is a 2002 American historical film set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of New York City. It was directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan. The film was inspired by Herbert Asbury's 1928 nonfiction book The Gangs of New York. It was made in Cinecittà, Rome, distributed by Miramax Films and nominated for numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The film begins in 1846 and quickly jumps to the early 1860s. The two principal issues of the era in New York were Irish immigration to the city and the Federal government's execution of the ongoing Civil War. The story follows gang leader Bill "The Butcher" Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) in his roles as crime boss and political kingmaker under the helm of "Boss" Tweed (Jim Broadbent). The film culminates in a violent confrontation between Cutting and his mob with the protagonist Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his immigrant allies, which coincides with the New York Draft Riots of 1863.

Contents

Plot

In 1846, in Lower Manhattan's "Five Points" district, a territorial war raging for years between the "Natives" (comprising those born in the United States) and recently arrived Irish Catholic immigrants, is about to come to a head in Paradise Square. The Natives are led by William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant with an open hatred of recent immigrants. The leader of the immigrant Irish, the "Dead Rabbits", is Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson), who has a young son, Amsterdam (played as a child by Cian McCormack). Cutting and Vallon meet with their respective gangs in a horrific and bloody battle, concluding when Bill kills Priest Vallon, which Amsterdam witnesses. Cutting declares the Dead Rabbits outlawed and orders Vallon's body be buried with honor. Amsterdam seizes the knife that kills his father, races off and buries it. He is found and taken to the orphanage at Hellgate.

Sixteen years later, Amsterdam returns to New York as a grown man (Leonardo DiCaprio) in the second year of the Civil War. It is September, 1862, days after the Battle of Antietam and the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation. Arriving in Five Points, he reunites with an old friend, Johnny Sirocco (Henry Thomas). Johnny, now a member of a clan of pickpockets and thieves, introduces Amsterdam to Bill the Butcher, for whom the group steals. Amsterdam finds many of his father's old loyalists are now under Bill's control, including Happy Jack Mulraney (John C. Reilly), now a corrupt city constable and in Bill's pocket, and McGloin (Gary Lewis), now one of Bill's lieutenants. Amsterdam soon works his way into the Butcher's inner circle. Amsterdam learns that each year, on the anniversary of the Five Points battle (February 16), Bill leads the city in saluting the victory over the Dead Rabbits, and he makes plans to kill the Butcher during this ceremony, in front of the entire Five Points community, in order to exact public revenge.

Amsterdam meets Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz), a pickpocket and grifter. Amsterdam is attracted to Jenny (as is Johnny), but his interest is dampened when Amsterdam discovers Jenny was once the Butcher's ward and still enjoys Bill's affections. Amsterdam gains Bill's confidence as Bill becomes his mentor. He becomes involved in the semi-criminal empire of William M. Tweed (Jim Broadbent) also known as "Boss" Tweed, a corrupt politician who heads Tammany Hall, the local political machine. Tweed's influence is spread throughout Lower Manhattan from boxing matches to sanitation services and fire control. As Tammany Hall and its opponents fight for control of the city, the political climate is boiling. Immigrants, mostly Irish, are enlisted into the Union Army as they depart the boats.

During a performance of Uncle Tom's Cabin Amsterdam thwarts an assassination attempt that leaves the Butcher wounded. Amsterdam is tormented by the realization he acted more out of honest devotion to Bill than from his own plan of revenge. Both retire to a brothel, where Jenny nurses Bill. Amsterdam confronts Jenny over Bill, and the two have a furious argument which dissolves into passionate lovemaking. Late that night, Amsterdam wakes to find Bill sitting by his bed in a rocking chair, draped in a tattered American flag. Bill speaks of the downfall of civilization and how he has maintained his power over the years through violence and the "spectacle of fearsome acts". He says Priest Vallon was the last enemy he ever fought who was worthy of real respect, and the Priest once beat Bill soundly and then let him live in shame rather than kill him. Bill credits the incident with giving him strength of will and character to return and fight for his own authority. Bill implicitly admits he has come to look upon Amsterdam as the son he never had.

The evening of the ceremony arrives. Johnny, who is in love with Jenny, reveals Amsterdam's true identity to Bill in a fit of jealousy and tells Bill of his plot to kill him. Bill baits Amsterdam with a knife-throwing act involving Jenny, where he targets her and throws the knife to leave a superficial cut on her throat. As Bill makes the customary toast, Amsterdam throws a knife at Bill, which Bill easily deflects, and counters with a knife throw of his own, hitting Amsterdam in the abdomen. Bill then repeatedly beats and head butts him as the crowd cheers him on. The Butcher proclaims that having Amsterdam live in shame is a fate worse than death as, "A freak. Worthy of Barnum's museum of wonders" before burning his cheek with a hot blade.

Afterwards, Jenny and Amsterdam go into hiding. Jenny takes care of Amsterdam and nurses him back to health. She implores him to join her in an escape to San Francisco. The two are visited by Walter "Monk" McGinn (Brendan Gleeson), a barber who worked as a mercenary for Priest Vallon in the Battle of the Five Points. McGinn gives Amsterdam a straight razor that belonged to his father. Amsterdam announces his return by placing a dead rabbit on a fence in Paradise Square. The rabbit finds its way to Bill, who sends Happy Jack to find out who sent the message. Jack tracks down Amsterdam and chases him through the catacombs into the local church where Amsterdam ambushes and strangles him. He hangs his body in Paradise Square for all to see. In retaliation, Bill has Johnny beaten nearly to death and run through with an iron pike, leaving it to Amsterdam to end his suffering.

The Natives march to the Catholic church as the Irish, along with the Archbishop, stand on the steps in defense. Bill promises to return when they are ready, and the incident garners newspaper coverage. Boss Tweed approaches Amsterdam with a plan to defeat Bill and his influence, hoping to cash in on the publicity: Tweed will back the candidacy of Monk McGinn for sheriff in return for the support of the Irish vote. On election day both Bill and Amsterdam force people to vote, some of them several times, and the result is Monk winning by more votes than there are voters. Humiliated, Bill confronts Monk who fails to respond to the violent challenge, suggesting they discuss the matter democratically. Whereupon Bill throws a meat cleaver into Monk's back before finishing him off with his own shillelagh. During Monk's subsequent funeral, Amsterdam issues a traditional challenge to fight, which Bill accepts. [[File:|thumb|right|The film's final shot, including the World Trade Center.]] The New York Draft Riots break out just as the gangs are preparing to fight. Many people of the city, particularly upper-class citizens and African-Americans, are attacked by those protesting the Enrollment Act of 1863. Union Army soldiers march through the city streets trying to control the rioters.

For Bill and Amsterdam, however, what matters is settling their own scores. As the rival gangs meet in Paradise Square, they are interrupted by cannon fire from Union naval ships in the harbor firing directly into Paradise Square. Many are killed by the cannons, as an enormous cloud of dust and debris covers the area. The destruction is followed by a wave of Union soldiers, who wipe out many of the gang members. Abandoning their gangs, Amsterdam and Bill exchange blows in the haze, then are thrown to the ground by another cannon blast. When the smoke clears, Bill discovers he has been impaled by a large piece of shrapnel. He declares, "Thank God, I die a true American." Amsterdam draws a knife from his boot and stabs Bill, who dies with his hand locked in Amsterdam's.

The dead are collected for burial. Bill's body is buried in Brooklyn, in view of the Manhattan skyline, adjacent to the grave of Priest Vallon. Jenny and Amsterdam visit as Amsterdam buries his father's razor. Amsterdam narrates New York would be rebuilt, but they are no longer remembered, as if "we were never here".

The scene then shifts over the next hundred years, giving a view as modern New York is built up from the Brooklyn Bridge to the World Trade Center, and the graves of Bill Cutting and Priest Vallon are gradually overgrown by bushes and weeds.

Cast

Production

"The country was up for grabs, and New York was a powder keg. This was the America not the West with its wide open spaces, but of claustrophobia, where everyone was crushed together. On one hand, you had the first great wave of immigration, the Irish, who were Catholic, spoke Gaelic, and owed allegiance to the Vatican. On the other hand, there were the Nativists, who felt that they were the ones who had fought and bled, and died for the nation. They looked at the Irish coming off the boats and said, ‘What are you doing here?’ It was chaos, tribal chaos. Gradually, there was a street by street, block by block, working out of democracy as people learned somehow to live together. If democracy didn't happen in New York, it wasn't going to happen anywhere."
— Martin Scorsese on how he saw the history of New York City as the battleground of the modern American democracy[1]

Filmmaker Martin Scorsese had grown up in Little Italy in the borough of Manhattan in New York City during the 1950s. At the time, he had noticed there were parts of his neighborhood that were much older than the rest, including tombstones from the 1810s in Old St. Patrick's Cathedral, cobblestone streets and small basements located under more recent large buildings; this sparked Scorsese's curiosity about the history of the area: "I gradually realized that the Italian-Americans weren’t the first ones there, that other people had been there before us. As I began to understand this, it fascinated me. I kept wondering, how did New York look? What were the people like? How did they walk, eat, work, dress?"[1]

By 1970, Scorsese came across Herbert Asbury's 1927 history The Gangs of New York about the city's nineteenth century criminal underworld and found it to be a revelation. In the portraits of the city's criminals, Scorsese saw the potential for an American epic about the battle for the modern American democracy.[1] At the time, Scorsese was a young director without money or clout; by the end of the decade, with the success of crime films such as Mean Streets (1973), about his old neighborhood, and Taxi Driver (1976), he was a rising star. In 1979 he acquired screen rights to Asbury's book, however it took twenty years to get the production moving forward. Difficulties arose with reproducing the monumental city scape of nineteenth century New York with the style and detail Scorsese wanted; almost nothing in New York City looked as it did in that time, and filming elsewhere was not an option. Eventually, in 1999, Scorsese was able to find a partnership with Harvey Weinstein, noted producer and co-chairman of Miramax Films.[1]

In order to create the sets that Scorsese envisioned, the production was filmed at the large Cinecittà Studio in Rome, Italy. Production designer Dante Ferretti recreated over a mile of mid-nineteenth century New York buildings, consisting of a five-block area of Lower Manhattan, including the Five Points slum, a section of the East River waterfront including two full-sized sailing ships, a thirty-building stretch of lower Broadway, a patrician mansion, and replicas of Tammany Hall, a church, a saloon, a Chinese theater, and a gambling casino.[1] For the Five Points, Ferretti recreated George Catlin's painting of the area.[1]

Particular attention was also paid to the speech of characters, as loyalties were often revealed by their accents. The film's voice coach, Tim Monich, resisted using a generic Irish brogue and instead focused on distinctive dialects of Ireland and Great Britain. As DiCaprio's character was born in Ireland but raised in the United States, his accent was designed to be a blend of accents typical of the half-Americanized. To develop the unique, lost accents of the Yankee "Nativists" such as Daniel Day-Lewis's character, Monich studied old poems, ballads, newspaper articles (which sometimes imitated spoken dialect as a form of humor), and the Rogue's Lexicon, a book of underworld idioms compiled by New York’s police commissioner, so that his men would be able to tell what criminals were talking about. An important piece was an 1892 wax cylinder recording of Walt Whitman reciting four lines of a poem in which he pronounced the word "world" as "woild", and the "a" of "an" nasal and flat, like "ayan". Monich concluded that native nineteenth century New Yorkers probably sounded something like the proverbial Brooklyn cabbie of the mid-twentieth.[1]

Due to the strong personalities and clashing visions of director and producer, the three year production became a story in and of itself.[1][2][3][4] Scorsese strongly defended his artistic vision on issues of taste and length while Weinstein fought for a streamlined, more commercial version. During the delays, noted actors such as Robert De Niro and Willem Dafoe had to leave the production due to conflicts with their other productions. Costs overshot the original budget by 25 percent, bringing the total cost over $100 million.[2] The increased budget made the film vital to Miramax Films' short term success.[3][5] After post-production was nearly completed in 2001, the film was delayed for over a year. The official justification was, after the September 11, 2001 attacks certain elements of the picture may have made audiences uncomfortable; the film's closing shot is a view of modern-day New York City, complete with the World Trade Center Towers, despite their having been leveled by the attacks over a year before the film's release.[6] However this explanation was refuted in Scorsese's own contemporary statements, where he noted that the production was still filming pick-ups even into October 2002.[3][7]

Weinstein kept demanding cuts to the film's length, and some of those cuts were eventually made. In December 2001, Jeffrey Wells (then of Kevin Smith's website) reviewed a purported work print of the film as it existed in the fall of 2001. Wells reported the work print lacked narration, was about 20 minutes longer, and although it was "different than the [theatrical] version ... scene after scene after scene play[s] exactly the same in both." Despite the similarities, Wells found the work print to be richer and more satisfying than the theatrical version. While Scorsese has stated the theatrical version is his final cut, he reportedly "passed along [the] three-hour-plus [work print] version of Gangs on tape [to friends] and confided, 'Putting aside my contractual obligation to deliver a shorter, two-hour-and-forty-minute version to Miramax, this is the version I'm happiest with,' or words to that effect."[6]

In an interview with Roger Ebert, Scorsese clarified the real issues in the cutting of the film. Ebert notes,

"His discussions with Weinstein, he said, were always about finding the length where the picture worked. When that got to the press, it was translated into fights. The movie is currently 168 minutes long, he said, and that is the right length, and that's why there won't be any director's cut — because this is the director's cut."[8]

Historical accuracy

Scorsese has received both praise and criticism for historical depictions in the film. In a PBS interview for the History News Network, George Washington University professor Tyler Anbinder discussed the historical aspects of the film.[9]

Asbury's book described the Bowery Boys, Plug Uglies, True Blue Americans, Shirt Tails, and Dead Rabbits, who were named after their battle standard, a dead rabbit on a pike.[1] The book also described William Poole, the inspiration for William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting, a member of the Bowery Boys, a bare-knuckle boxer, and a leader of the Know Nothing political movement. Poole did not come from the Five Points and was assassinated nearly a decade before the Draft Riots. Both the fictional Bill and the real one had butcher shops, but Poole is not known to have killed anyone.[10][11] The book also described other famous gangsters from the era such as Red Rocks Farrell, Slobbery Jim and Hell-Cat Maggie, who filed her front teeth to points and wore artificial brass fingernails and was played by Cara Seymour in the film.[1]

Studios, Rome]]

Anbinder said that Scorsese's recreation of the visual environment of mid-19th century New York City and the Five Points "couldn't have been much better".[9] All sets were built completely on the exterior stages of Cinecittà Studios in Rome.[12] Anbinder also praised the depiction of the persecution and discrimination against immigrants at the time, particularly the Irish. By 1860, New York City had 200,000 Irish, in a population of 800,000.[13] The riot which opens the film, though fictional, was "reasonably true to history" for fights of this type, except for the amount of carnage depicted in the gang fights and city riots.[9]

In 1850, New York City recorded more than 200 gang wars fought largely by youth gangs.[14] As early as 1839, Mayor Philip Hone declared: "This city is infested by gangs of hardened wretches" who "patrol the streets making night hideous and insulting all who are not strong enough to defend themselves."[15] The large gang fight depicted in the film as occurring in 1846 is fictional, though there was one between the Bowery Boys and Dead Rabbits in the Five Points on July 4, 1857, which is not mentioned in the film.[16]

The movie references the infamous Tweed Courthouse, as "Boss" Tweed refers to plans for the structure as being "modest" and "economical".

In the movie, Chinese American people were common enough in New York to have their own community and public venues. However, significant Chinese immigration to the city didn't begin until 1869, the time when the transcontinental railroad was completed. The Chinese theater on Pell St. also wasn't finished until the 1890s.[17]

P. T. Barnum's museum is shown being burned down during the Draft Riots. Though this is fictional, Barnum's American Museum was demolished by fire two years later, on July 13, 1865.

The Old Brewery, the overcrowded tenement shown in the movie in both 1846 and 1862–3, was actually demolished in 1852.[18]

Release

The original target release date was December 21, 2001, in time for the 2001 Academy Awards, however the production overshot that goal as Scorsese was still filming.[3][7] A twenty minute clip, billed as an "extended preview", debuted at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, and was shown at a star-studded event at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès with Scorsese, DiCaprio, Diaz and Weinstein in attendance.[7]

Harvey Weinstein then wanted the film to open on December 25, 2002, but a potential conflict with another film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Catch Me If You Can produced by DreamWorks, caused him to move the opening day to an earlier position. After negotiations between several parties, including the interests of DiCaprio, Weinstein and DreamWorks' Jeffrey Katzenberg, the decision was made on economic grounds: DiCaprio did not want to face a conflict of promoting two movies opening against each other; Katzenberg was able to convince Weinstein that the violence and adult material in Gangs of New York would not necessarily attract families on Christmas Day. Of main concern to all involved was attempting to maximize the film's opening day, an important part of film industry economics.[3]

After three years in production, the film was released on December 20, 2002; a year after its original planned release date.[7]

While the film has been released on DVD and Blu-ray disc, there are no plans to revisit the theatrical cut or prepare a "director's cut" for home video release. "Marty doesn't believe in that," editor Thelma Schoonmaker stated. "He believes in showing only the finished film."[6]

Reception

Box office performance

The film made $77,812,000 in Canada and the United States. It also took $23,763,699 in Japan and $16,358,580 in the United Kingdom. Worldwide the film grossed a total of $193,772,504.[19]

Critical reception

Reviews of the eventual release in 2002 were generally positive — the review aggregating website Rotten Tomatoes reporting 74% of the 196 reviews that they tallied were favorable. The RT Critical Consensus reads, "Though flawed, the sprawling, messy Gangs of New York is redeemed by impressive production design and Day-Lewis's electrifying performance."[20]

Roger Ebert praised the film but believed it fell short of Scorsese's best work, while his At the Movies co-star Richard Roeper called it a "masterpiece" and declared it a leading contender for Best Picture.[21] Paul Clinton of CNN called the film "a grand American epic."[22] Todd McCarthy singled out the meticulous attention to historical detail and production design for particular praise.[23]

Some critics, however, were disappointed with the film, complaining that it fell well short of the hype surrounding it, that it tried to tackle too many themes without saying anything unique about them, and that the overall story was weak.[24]

Awards

Wins

Nominations

See also

New York City portal

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Fergus M. Bordewich (December 2002). "Manhattan Mayhem". Smithsonian Magazine. http://www.fergusbordewich.com/PAGESjournalism/FBgangs.shtml. Retrieved July 15, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Laura M. Holson (April 7, 2002). "2 Hollywood Titans Brawl Over a Gang Epic". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/07/business/2-hollywood-titans-brawl-over-a-gang-epic.html. Retrieved July 15, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Laura M. Holson, Miramax Blinks, and a Double DiCaprio Vanishes, The New York Times, October 11, 2002, Accessed July 15, 2010.
  4. ^ Rick Lyman (February 12, 2003). "It's Harvey Weinstein's Turn to Gloat". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/12/movies/it-s-harvey-weinstein-s-turn-to-gloat.html. Retrieved July 15, 2010. 
  5. ^ Dana Harris, Cathy Dunkley (May 15, 2001). "Miramax, Scorsese gang up". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117867307.html. Retrieved July 15, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c Jeffrey Wells. "Hollywood Elsewhere: Gangs vs. Gangs". http://www.quickstopentertainment.com/elsewhere/33.html. 
  7. ^ a b c d Cathy Dunkley (May 20, 2002). "Gangs of the Palais". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117867307.html. Retrieved July 15, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Gangs all here for Scorsese". Chicago Sun-Times. 15 December 2002. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20021215/PEOPLE/212010305. Retrieved 6 September 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c History News Network
  10. ^ Herbert Asbury website Gangs of New York
  11. ^ Herbert Asbury website Bill the Butcher
  12. ^ Mixing Art and a Brutal History
  13. ^ The New York Irish, Ronald H. Bayor and Timothy Meagher, eds. (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996)
  14. ^ "19th century AD." Adolescence, Summer, 1995 by Ruskin Teeter.
  15. ^ Gangs, Crime, Smut, Violence. The New York Times. September 20, 1990.
  16. ^ Virtual New York City, CUNY VNY: Riots
  17. ^ Hamill, Pete. "Trampling city's history." New York Daily News. Retrieved on October 4, 2009.
  18. ^ R. K. Chin, "A Journey Through Chinatown."
  19. ^ "Gangs of New York". http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=gangsofnewyork.htm. Retrieved 6 September 2010. 
  20. ^ Gangs of New York Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes
  21. ^ Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper. "At the Movies: Gangs of New York". http://bventertainment.go.com/tv/buenavista/atm/reviews.html?sec=6&subsec=Gangs+of+New+York. Retrieved 2002-12-20. 
  22. ^ Paul Clinton (December 19, 2002). "Review: Epic 'Gangs' Oscar-worthy effort". CNN. http://archives.cnn.com/2002/SHOWBIZ/Movies/12/19/sproject.ca02.gangs.review/index.html. Retrieved 2002-12-19. 
  23. ^ Todd McCarthy (December 5, 2002). "Review: Gangs of New York Review". Variety. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117919499.html?categoryid=31&cs=1. Retrieved 2002-12-05. 
  24. ^ "Gangs of New York negative reviews". http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/gangs_of_new_york/?page=2&critic=approved&sortby=rotten&name_order=asc&view=#contentReviews. 
  25. ^ a b Bafta.org
  26. ^ BFCA.org
  27. ^ Chicagofilmcritics.org
  28. ^ IMDb.com
  29. ^ Ropeofscilicon.com
  30. ^ IMDb.com
  31. ^ LVFCS.org
  32. ^ IMDb.org
  33. ^ NYFCC.com
  34. ^ Rottentomatoes.com
  35. ^ IMDb.com
  36. ^ a b IMDb.com
  37. ^ Ropeofsilicon.com
  38. ^ Sefca.com
  39. ^ IMDb.com
  40. ^ IMDb.com
  41. ^ IMDb.com
  42. ^ IMDb.com
  43. ^ IMDb.com
  44. ^ IMDb.com
  45. ^ IMDb.Com
  46. ^ Rottentoamtoes.com
  47. ^ IMDb.com
  48. ^ IMDb.com

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Gangs of New York is a 2002 film about Amsterdam Vallon, who returns to New York to seek revenge against Bill "the Butcher" for his father's death.

Directed by Martin Scorsese. Written by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan.
America Was Born In The Streets.

Contents

Bill the Butcher

  • Everything you see belongs to me, to one degree or another. The beggars and newsboys and quick thieves here in Paradise, the sailor dives and gin mills and blind tigers on the waterfront, the anglers and amusers, the she-hes and the Chinks. Everybody owes, everybody pays. Because that's how you stand up against the rising of the tide.
  • [to Boss Tweed] Mulberry Street... and Worth... Cross and Orange... and Little Water. Each of the Five Points is a finger. When I close my hand it becomes a fist. And, if I wish, I can turn it against you.
  • My father gave his life, making this country what it is. Murdered by the British with all of his men on the twenty fifth of July, anno domini, 1814. Do you think I'm going to help you befoul his legacy, by giving this country over to them, what's had no hand in the fighting for it? Why, because they come off a boat crawling with lice and begging you for soup.
  • Ears and noses will be the trophies of the day.
  • WHOOPSIE-DAISY!

Amsterdam Vallon

  • It's a funny feeling being taken under the wing of a dragon. It's warmer than you'd think.
  • When you kill a king, you don't stab him in the dark. You kill him where the entire court can watch him die.
  • In the end, they put candles on the bodies so's their friends, if they had any, could know them in the dark. The city did this free of charge. Shang, Jimmy Spoils, Hell-cat, McGloin, and more. Friend or foe, didn't make no difference now. It was four days and nights before the worst of the mob was finally put down. We never knew how many New Yorkers died that week before the city was finally delivered. My father told me we was all born of blood and tribulation, and so then too was our great city. But for those of us what lived and died in them furious days, it was like everything we knew was mildly swept away. And no matter what they did to build this city up again... for the rest of time... it would be like no one even knew we was ever here.

Boss Tweed

  • The appearance of law must be upheld, especially when it's being broken.
  • Remember the first rule of politics. The ballots don't make the results, the counters make the results. The counters. Keep counting.

Dialogue

Bill: Is this it priest, the Pope's new army, a few crusty bitches and a hand full of rag tags?
Priest Vallon: Now, now, Bill, you swore this was a battle between warriors, not a bunch of Miss Nancies, so warriors is what I brought.
Bill: At my challenge, by the ancient laws of combat, we are met at this chosen ground, to settle for good and all who holds sway over the five points: us natives, born rightwise to this fine land, or the foreign hordes defiling it.
Crowd: Yeah.
Priest Vallon: By the ancient laws of combat, I accept the challenge of the so called "natives." They plague our people at every turn, but from this day out, they shall plague us no more. For let it be known, that the hand that tries to strike us from this land shall be swiftly cut down.
Crowd: YEAH.

Boss Tweed: You may or may not know, Bill, that everyday I go down to the waterfront with hot soup for the Irish as they come ashore. Its part of building a political base.
Bill: I've noticed you there, you may have noticed me.
Boss Tweed: Indeed I have. Throwing torrents of abuse to every single person who steps off those boats.
Bill: [gleefully] If only I had the guns, Mr. Tweed, I'd shoot each and every one of them before they set foot on American soil.
Boss Tweed: That's the building of our country right there, Mr. Cutting. Americans aborning.
Bill: I don't see no Americans. I see trespassers, Irish harps. Do a job for a nickel what a nigger does for a dime and a white man used to get a quarter for. What have they done? Name one thing they've contributed.
Boss Tweed: Votes.
Bill: Votes, you say? They vote how the archbishop tells them, and who tells the archbishop? Their king in the pointy hat what sits on his throne in Rome.

Bill: You. Whatever your name is... what is your name?
Amsterdam: Amsterdam, sir.
Bill: Amsterdam, I'm New York. Don't you never come in here empty handed again. You gotta pay for the pleasure of my company.

Bill: How old are you, Amsterdam?
Amsterdam: I'm not sure, sir. I never did quite figure it.
Bill: I'm forty-seven. Forty-seven years old. You know how come I stayed alive this long? Fear. A spectacle of fearsome acts. A man steals from me, I cut off his hands. If he offends me, I cut out his tongue. He rises up against me, I cut off his head, stick it on a pike. Raise it up high so all on the streets can see. That's what preserves the order of things. Fear.

Boss Tweed: You're a good one for the fighting, Bill. But you can't fight forever.
Bill: I can go down doing it.
Boss Tweed: And you will!
Bill: What did you say?
Boss Tweed: I said, you're turning your back on the future.
Bill: Not our future.

Boss Tweed: You killed an elected official?
Bill: Who elected him?
Boss Tweed: You don't know what you've done to yourself.
Bill: [taps his glass eye with a knife] I know your works. You are neither cold nor hot. So because you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth. You can build your filthy world without me. I took the father. Now I'll take the son. You tell young Vallon I'm gonna paint Paradise Square with his blood. Two coats. I'll festoon my bedchamber with his guts. As for you, Mr. Tammany-fucking-Hall, you come down to the Points again, and you'll be dispatched by my own hand. Get back to your celebration and let me eat in peace.

Cast

External links

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