just watched ‘gangs of new york’ for the first time in nearly four years.
scorsese’s film, at its best, is about how violence begets violence, those who live by the sword etc…
but i’m confused by the very last image of the movie. he ends with a montage of overlapping images of new york’s development over the past hundred and fifty years. but he stops short of showing the skyline as it looks now – so the twin towers are right there, centre screen, intact…this strikes me as more than a little surprising, and incongruous given the film that had led up to this point – scorsese has said that he didn’t show the empty skyline because ‘i wanted to make a film about the people who built the city, not those who tried to destroy it’. this point has some logic, but it does seem to me that the film would have been far more powerful had it ended more truthfully – the danger with the ending as it stands is that it may be read as a triumphalist eradication of the violent past, rather than an indictment of the fact that we have not changed our values that much since gangs beat each other to death in the streets for control of a city.