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Authorship and context: the films of Martin Scorsese 1963-1977

By Leighton Grist


This thesis centres upon variously detailed analyses of the early fictional films of director Martin Scorsese, ranging from the student short film What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1963) to the big-budget production New York, New York (1977). Through this, the thesis seeks to enact an intervention in the debate surrounding film authorship. Informed by a broadly poststructuralist position, the thesis recasts authorship as a discourse that exists in a particular, mutually inflecting relation with a text's other constituting elements. While the analysis of specific films traces the stylistic and thematic consistencies that inform Scorsese's authorial discourse, the latter's specific articulations are read in relation to the texts' institutional, industrial, and historical determination. That the texts studied were made within a variety of filmmaking practices - student production, exploitation cinema, independent filmmaking, major studio finance and distribution - enables consideration of authorship within different contexts of production. Crossing this, the thesis charts the genesis, institutional appropriation, and consequent rejection of New Hollywood Cinema, a phase of filmmaking of which Scorsese's early work is paradigmatic.\ud \ud The thesis is organized on a chapter per film or production situation basis. The introduction outlines its theoretical underpinning. The conclusion briefly contextualizes the films which Scorsese has directed since New York, New York.\ud \ud The thesis concludes that authorial analysis remains a valid critical practice, but also one which needs to be located in relation to other determining factors

Topics: PN1993
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