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Mixing Art
and a
Brutal History
conditions that existed in the Five Points over a century ago.  The area is defined by the intersection of  Mulberry, Cross, Orange, Anthony and Little Water Streets.  This was the Sixth Ward and became notorious for its crime-ridden streets, colorful gangs, prostitutes, petty thieves and gamblers.  There was all manner of vice, debauchery and corruption.  Even the police and fire brigades were part of this lawless environment not to mention the politicians.
We are introduced to a dark and dangerous underworld, brutal, unforgiving, and fearsome.  With meticulous detail we are pulled into the story right into the gutter alongside the thugs and lowlives.  Although the plot is laboriously long and predictable, Scorsese and his excellent crew manage to keep our interest with remarkable realism and crisp dialogue.  These deplorable conditions that existed in those long gone years,
festooned with shady characters, lends itself well to a visually beautiful work by cinematographer Michael Ballhaus.  His techniques of sweaty, filthy close ups with an occasional sweeping wide-angle shot adds to the sense of how the city and its people appeared in those turbulent days.  It gives us an idea of the grand scope of this savage, epic tale.
Review by Gregory J. Christiano
The squalid slum known as Five Points in Lower Manhattan is the setting for Martin Scorsese’s bold, epic spectacle of “Gangs of New York.”   The entire cityscape of mid-nineteenth century New York City was recreated at Rome’s famed Cincecitta studio complex.  With a budget of over $100 million, the movie was shot the old fashioned way – in Hollywood’s grand style – with a cast of thousands.  Real people and sets were used.   There was very little use of computer imaging.  To his credit, production designer Dante Ferretti built the realistic sets and captured the miserable living
Gangs of New York
Studio:  Miramax
Release Date:  Dec. 17, 2002
Director:  Martin Scorsese
Screenwriters:  Jay Cocks, Steve Zaillian, Ken Lonergan
Producers:  Alberto Grimaldi, Harvey Weinstein
Cast:
Amsterdam Vallon ...
             Leonardo DiCaprio
Bill the Butcher ...
             
Daniel Day-Lewis
Jenny Everdeane ...
             
Cameron Diaz
Priest Vallon ...
             
Liam Neeson
William “Boss” Tweed ...
             
Jim Broadbent
Monk McGinn ...
             
Brendon Gleeson
Happy Jack ...
             
John C. Reilly
Johnny Sirocco ...
             
Henry Thomas
P. T. Barnum ...
             
Roger Aston-Griffiths     
Costumes:  Sandy Powell
Music:  Howard Shore
Cinematographer:
Michael Ballhaus
Rated R:  Intense violence, nudity, profanity, racist language.
Reviewed by:
Gregory J. Christiano
Available:  July 1, 2003, on DVD and VHS from amazon.com
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