Gangs of New York is filled with artistic details but I spent most of the time
hiding my eyes because Daniel Day-Lewis does a great job of playing a
truly evil person. Everything about what he does points to his
character. For instance, pay attention to how he walks. It's
an evil person's walk. Remember the scene where he taps the sharp
knife onto his glass eye? That's a great scene, in addition to his
many, great, evil scenes.
This is an edgy, not a feel-good,
illustration of historical New York. Even the portrayal of how
Civil War, dead soldiers are thrown in graves is not the traditional way
one would treat a dead soldier who has just fought for his
country. Martin Scorsese does a great job of making you feel
While I winced from scene to scene,
here are some artistic details that stood out.
- There is the shaving scene of the
father in the beginning that is repeated with the shaving scene of
the son toward the end.
- The "Amen" scenes of
Daniel Day-Lewis, Amsterdam and the politician are cut from one to
the other to represent irony, faith, and etiquette, respectively.
- There is also the irony of the
theater shows. The shows include Uncle Tom's cabin which deals
with the subject of slavery, and there is also the Chinese acrobatic
show. Why is Daniel Day-Lewis, who is a staunch believer that
he is an American native, and who dislikes foreigners and
minorities, watching such shows? He treats immigrants, and in
this case, Irish immigrants, with scorn.
- In the end there is also the cut
from the graves of Daniel Day-Lewis and Amsterdam's father, side by
side, to the modern, New York skyline, which trivializes Cutting's
hold on New York history, which in this movie is treated
dramatically whether historically accurate or not.
- The dark humor of the name,
"Sir William Cutting" -- the fact he's a butcher and he
uses his knives for his dark deeds.
- Also, pay attention to the times
when Day-Lewis is sharpening his knives. They are added for a
reason. Are they used as an artistic detail to separate main
segments of the movie? If yes, it's a wonderful, new image not
seen in movies before.
Also, another observation is how the
movie reminded me of Gladiator,
but with an American twist. The opening fight sequence is very
bloody and Daniel Day-Lewis holds up his sword yelling victory, like Russell
Crowe did. Also, the camera technique of using slow motion
during the fight with the appropriate music, again reminded me of Gladiator when the scenes of Russell
Crowe are shown in slow motion at certain points during the fight.
The similarity of these opening scenes seems "appropriate"
because these two actors are with the best in their league.
Remember Day-Lewis in My Left Foot? Does it remind you of
Crowe in A
Because Daniel Day-Lewis got an Oscar
nomination for his role in Gangs of New York, it is clear that
the Academy is willing to recognize actors who play well the "bad
guy." This was also true with Denzel Washington with his role
in Training Day.
It will be interesting to find out if
the "bad" character wins an Oscar again.
Whatever the outcome, it's great to see
Daniel Day-Lewis on the screen again.
Screenwriting Articles Index