By Roberto F. Riviere

Martin Scorsese has directed over 50 movies in his over 53 years of film making. He has reaped countless Academy Awards and nominations for his movies. He has become a respected member of the film community in both preserving old cinema, and his techniques. The reason he’s done this well is because of the way he creates a story. Here at JMU, we students are invested in learning. Rather than just give you a repetitive biography or review of his films, I will impart to you the different skills great film makers like him use to tell such their stories.

Scorsese is one of my most favorite directors. Something I’ve grown to love especially is his films is his various cinematography techniques. He uses many slowdown shots to emphasize a scene and its importance to his characters. If you look at some of his most acclaimed movies you can see great examples of these techniques.

In this scene Scorsese puts emphasis on the first time Travis, Robert De Niro, meet’s Betsy. He amplifies not only her beauty, but Travis’ obsession with her by slowing down parts of the scene.

Scorsese’s slow down shot does a wonderful job of showing more to the audience. However, this is not the only cinematography technique hes has become very proficient at. He has also become a master of type of shot called the tracking shot. It is where the camera is mounted on a camera dolly, a wheeled platform that is pushed on rails while the picture is being taken. The reason he is often called the “King of the Tracking Shot” can be seen in the next clip (“Martin Scorsese”).

This scene is noted as one of the best tracking shots in the history of film (Raymond). It is really a work of art, as Scorsese has the camera follow the actors for such great lengths. He manages to cover the multiple environments to really give the audience a taste of what life is like in Goodfellas.

As one can see in the clip above, the song Then He Kissed Me  by The Crystals, works perfectly with the scene. Scorsese loves using more than just the film, but also by the music, as a story-telling device. For instance, he tends to play a lot of Rolling Stones as most of their songs invoke lots of emotion in them and have lyrics that the audience can grab on to. Something else one can find when watching his movies is his use of diegetic music. This is music playing in a film that is created by actions or objects in a film. Just like the Rolling Stones, it helps the audience become part of the scene emotionally. A perfect scene to represent this can be seen in the next clip.

This is also a masterful scene done by Scorsese that uses the music to portray Travis Bickle,Robert De Niro, as a lonely guy. The use of diegetic music with the TV makes the scene not only feel real on a whole other level, but also exaggerates Travis’ portrayed loneliness (Men).

The acting of the above scene is phenomenal. Although there is one other important aspect of  Scorsese’s style I haven’t mentioned. As I’ve shown you Scorsese uses extreme detail and can be very meticulous when working on the aesthetics of a scene. However, when it comes to the acting of the many stars he seems to produce, he doesn’t try to micromanage it. He relies tediousl yon method acting. His actors go through great lengths to become one with their character. You can see this heavily in the next clip.

Robert De Niro gained over 60 pounds in order to properly portray his character in parts of this film (Guerrasio). Instead of trying to nit-pick every bit of acting some directors do to their actors, Scorsese allows his actors to become their characters and put out phenomenal scenes like this.

Scorsese uses many different techniques to make his films so great and thrilling. He has found so ways to tell his stories and has become a master at them. He uses slow motion to emphasize scenes to the audience. Scorsese has mastered using the tracking shot to relate entire environments. He  relies heavily on music to invoke emotions as well as excitement to the audience. Lastly, he leaves the acting to the actors, and just lets them become the character they portray. Learn from these techniques. For all the aspiring film makers and directors, you may use Scorsese and his masterful works as a guide on how to tell your story.


Guerrasio, Jason. “Martin Scorsese’s 10 Greatest Scenes.” The Moviefone Blog. AOL, 17 Feb. 2010. Web. 16 Apr. 2013.

Men, Peter B. “Life Is Stupid and Boring. Write?” Web log post. A Story Untold. WordPress, 14 Apr. 2009. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. <>.

“Martin Scorsese.” IMDb., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013.

Raymond, Marc. “Martin Scorsese.” Senses of Cinema RSS. Film Victoria Australia, 17 May 2002. Web. 18 Apr. 2013.

GoodFellas. Dir. Martin Scorsese. By Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi. Perf. Niro Robert De and Ray Liotta. Warner Bros., 1990.

Taxi Driver. Dir. Martin Scorsese. By Paul Schrader, Bernard Herrmann, Marcia Lucas, Michael Chapman, Tony Parmelee, Frank E. Warner, Shinichi Yamazaki, Jackson Browne, Keith Addis, and Tex Rudloff. Prod. Michael Phillips, Julia Phillips, Phillip M. Goldfarb, Dick Smith, Charles Rosen, Herbert Mulligan, Les Bloom, Ruth Morley, Irving Buchman, Mona Orr, and Dan Perri. Perf. Niro Robert De, Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Leonard Harris, Peter Boyle, and Cybill Shepherd. Columbia Pictures Presents, 1976.

Raging Bull. Prod. Robert Chartoff, Irwin Winkler, Hal W. Polaire, Peter Savage, Gene Rudolf, Alan Manser, Kirk Axtell, Michael G. Westmore, Richard Bruno, John Boxer, and Mike Maggi. Dir. Martin Scorsese. By Paul Schrader, Mardik Martin, Thelma Schoonmaker, Michael Chapman, Pietro Mascagni, Arturo Basile, Frank E. Warner, Les Lazarowitz, Michael Evie, Raymond Klein, and Max E. Wood. Perf. Niro Robert. De, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty, Frank Vincent, and Nicholas Colasanto. United Artists, 1980.