In case you haven’t noticed, Martin Scorsese is very protective of the idea of cinema. Or at least, his definition of it. The director of countless all-time classics ruffled plenty of feathers recently after his comments on the Marvel Cinematic Universe generated both huge publicity and plenty of backlash, which even led to Francis Ford Coppola jumping on the bandwagon as the two elder statesmen of Hollywood bashed the superhero genre.
Scorsese mustn’t have realized how controversial his words would become, as the filmmaker has had to face questions on his opinions in virtually every interview that he’s given since, which has taken some of the shine away from the movie he was doing those very interviews to promote. The 77 year-old has been trying to get The Irishman made for a decade, but due to the expensive nature of the digital de-aging effects that the story required, no studio was willing to put down the cash.
Netflix stepped in though, giving Scorsese the chance to reunite with Robert De Niro and get the project off the ground, and it looks to have paid off, with The Irishman scoring extremely positive reviews, instantly positioning the crime epic as an awards season frontrunner. However, some viewers have made it known that they found the three and a half hour movie boring, with one enterprising subscriber even figuring out the best way to turn it into a four-part miniseries.
In a timely coincidence, Scorsese was asked in a recent interview whether he thought of making The Irishman as a series due to the lengthy running time and dense, decades-long narrative, an idea that the director was quick to admit that he’d never even considered.
“You could say, ‘This is a long story, you can play it out over two seasons’, I saw somebody mention that. Absolutely no. I’ve never even thought of it. Because the point of this picture is the accumulation of detail. It’s an accumulated cumulative effect by the end of the movie, which means you get to see from beginning to end if you’re so inclined. A series is great, it’s wonderful, you can develop character and plot lines and worlds are recreated. But this wasn’t right for that.”
Scorsese obviously isn’t against the idea of long-form storytelling on television, having been heavily involved in the creation and development of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, as well as directing the pilot. However, he’s a firm believer that his work is expressly designed for the cinema, despite The Irishman being exclusive to a streaming service, and at this point he’s unlikely to change that belief.