The Films of Martin Scorsese: Gangsters, Greed, and Guilt (2020)

Few mainstream filmmakers have as pronounced a disregard for the supposed rules of filmmaking as Martin Scorsese. His inventiveness displays a reaction against the “right” way to make a movie, frequently eschewing traditional cinematic language in favor of something flashy, unexpected and contrary to the way “proper” films are done. Yet despite this, he’s become one of the most influential directors of the last fifty years, a critical darling (though rarely a box office titan), and a fan favorite.

On the surface, Scorsese’s work is defined by shocking violence and rampant profanity. These are often loud, brash films that appear to glorify the worst kinds of people. He makes heroes of mobsters, thugs, con men, and murderers. Yet dig deeper and you find the true beating heart of his oeuvre: guilt, collapse, self-destruction, spiritual turmoil, and the complicated hypocrisies of faith, among other themes that are a constant in his work.

In this book, San Juan guides readers through the crooks, the mobsters, the loners, the moguls, and the nobodies of Scorsese’s 26-movie filmography. The Films of Martin Scorsese examines the techniques that have made him one of the most innovative directors in history: needle-drop soundtracks, outbursts of violence, daring camera work, and more. The book further looks at the themes that are the engine driving all of this, including themes of self-sabotage, alienation, faith, and guilt.

What is Martin Scorsese trying to tell us through his work? Can we learn something about the human conditions via works like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, GoodFellas, and The Irishman?

With that goal in mind, between these covers you’ll find fodder for discussion, dissection, and debate, all of it driven by insightful-yet-approachable analysis of Martin Scorsese’s entire filmography, from 1967s Who’s That Knocking At My Door? to 2019’s The Irishman, as well as carefully chosen excerpts from five decades worth of Martin Scorsese interviews and rare behind-the-scenes photos.

The book is currently available in hardcover by Rowman & Littlefield.


News Coverage

New Books Network Podcast – Oct. 20, 2020

New Books in File podcast – Oct 20, 2020

Praise for The Films of Martin Scorsese

“San Juan’s pithy, accessible style makes the book stand out … Whether Scorsese scholars or fans, readers will not be disappointed with San Juan’s engaging, entertaining book about a filmmaker ranked as one of the greatest directors of all time.”Choice Magazine

“Eric San Juan’s deep dives into great filmmakers’ bodies of work are essential reading for anyone looking to explore the trajectory of an artist’s creative career. I wish his books had existed when I was a film student.”  —Stephen H. Segal, coauthor of GEEK WISDOM, Hugo Award-winning editor

“More thoughtful appreciation than criticism, this engaging title moves through Scorsese’s feature films in chronological order, explaining the merits of each entry and, in many cases, why it falls where it does in his canon. Devoting roughly 10 pages to each title, San Juan effectively describes why Scorsese made the film and the movie’s impact on society and his career. Most important, he offers analysis that reads more like a well-considered blog post than another piece of dry criticism. While this extensively researched volume considers widely covered films such as Taxi Driver, The Last Temptation of Christ, and The Departed and cites major works on Scorsese published in the last 20 years, the author’s style is fresh and he brings new insights to the table. A clear, nuanced, and highly accessible primer to the films of one of America’s greatest directors.”Library Journal

“There’s no shortage of academic analysis of the works of Martin Scorsese, but even in that considerable field this book stands out. Eric San Juan mixes a scholarly deep dive with the giddy excitement of a true fan to tease out new and cogent insights on the Scorsese catalog that will prove revelatory whether you’re on your first viewing or your fiftieth.”  — Zaki Hasan, author & Podcaster, Professor of Communication and Media Studies, San Jose State College