Analyzing Scorsese's Mean Streets

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Mean Streets is autobiographical in that Scorsese has drawn widely from his upbringing. In Mean Streets, Scorsese incorporated feelings, conflicts, and ideas that were present in his own life. Described by Scorsese himself as being a “an anthropological or a sociological tract." This film would be the last time he used directly autobiographical material and a screenplay, which reflected his own experiences. On Mean Streets itself, Scorsese says, “…It was like an allegory for what was happening to me trying to make movies. …I drew from personal experiences about a guy trying to make it.” Described by many critics as a Film Noir, however “it’s a loose, roughed up and intimate affair that owes more to the improvised narrative structure and raw,…show more content…
This aspect of the film parallels Federico Fellini’s I vitelloni, which depicts the misadventures of a group of young men doing their best to avoid any responsibility in an Italian coastal town. Scorsese even utilizes Fellini’s device of using a separate voice (which happens to be his own) to differentiate Charlie’s internal thoughts from his external…show more content…
This was until Scorsese brought a whole new approach to scoring films with popular music with Mean Streets, using songs to establish tone ("Be My Baby," which opens the film, offers a nostalgic innocence that contrasts with Charlie's world of guilt and violence), suggest character (Charlie enters the strip club to the song "Jumpin' Jack Flash"), describe the culture, pace the editing and, in general, create an aural personality and energy. "Mean Streets featured the music I grew up with and that music gave me images," he explained in the interview book Scorsese on Scorsese. "For me, the whole movie was 'Jumping Jack Flash' and 'Be My Baby'." This rock and roll score that played throughout the film was another way in which Scorsese successfully used themes of violence and dysfunction (echoed on these loud, electric guitar fuelled songs) to express this pursuit of the social and economic success that the characters of Charlie and Tony (amongst others) were

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