Friday, June 18, 2021

Jim Cullen's "Martin Scorsese and the American Dream"

Jim Cullen is the author of numerous books, including The American Dream and Those Were the Days: Why All in the Family Still Matters. He has taught at Harvard, Brown, and Sarah Lawrence College, and is a member of the faculty of the newly established Greenwich Country Day High School in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Cullen applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Martin Scorsese and the American Dream, and reported the following:
There's been a lot of quality writing on Martin Scorsese's career -- he's produced some himself -- but my book looks at one of the most persistent and powerful tropes that runs through it: his fascination with the American Dream. Like all those who have taken it seriously, Scorsese recognizes both its complexities and the many forms it takes, from upward mobility (sometimes through criminality) to psychic fulfillment. This passage, however, discusses another side of the American Dream -- one in which it is not only unrealized, but avowedly surrended in the name of a greater good. This comes from an analysis of Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) in Scorsese's 1993 film The Age of Innocence, based on the 1920 Edith Wharton novel (which depicts savageries that gangsters could never imagine):
Sometimes—actually, very often in American life—the value of Dreams derives from the way we choose to sacrifice them in the name of a greater good. “Essentially, [Archer] is what they call a stand-up guy,” Scorsese later reflected, noting that he himself is not among those who actually chose that path. “It’s about making a decision and sticking to it, making do with what you have … I don’t say it’s a happy ending, but it’s a realistic and beautiful one.”
Visit Jim Cullen's website.

The Page 99 Test: Sensing the Past.

The Page 99 Test: From Memory to History.

--Marshal Zeringue