clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Martin Scorsese and the adversarial necessity between time and art

The legendary director of films like Goodfellas and The Departed feels like he’s running out of time, and it got me thinking.

CinemaCon 2023 - Paramount Pictures Presentation Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/WireImage

Ask any cinephile to name their favorite directors, and many of the same names will come up. There’s Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, and, of course, Martin Scorsese (I didn’t intentionally leave anybody out. I could list names all day). Scorsese is the creative mind who has been at the helm of classics such as Goodfellas, Casino, The Departed, The King of Comedy, Taxi Driver – the list goes on and on.

Thanks to streaming services, there seems to be almost a birth of untethered creativity going on late in his career – with the nearly four-hour Netflix film, 2019’s The Irishmen, and the upcoming dual Paramount/Apple + release, Killers of the Flower Moon. Scorsese has mediums where he can tell these stories how he wants to without the usual studio red tape.

In an interview with Deadline, Scorsese said, “The whole world has opened up to me, but it’s too late. It’s too late.” That quote gave me pause because this man has done some of the greatest works in cinema history – but at 80, Scorsese is seeing so many avenues where his wildest ideas can be realized. However, it’s at the tail end of his life, and he’s questioning if there will be enough grace to get it all out. It got me thinking about the dance between time and art. Sometimes, they are adversaries; other times, they need each other to elevate urgency and importance.

We only have a finite amount of time on the Earth and have no idea when that time is up on an individual level. There are constructs like hours, days, weeks, months, and years that serve as lynchpins. Time shows on our faces and skin as we age – almost like a badge of honor the longer we go. With that, we (hopefully) incur wisdom and stories we can pass on. The creation of art serves as a marker in time – while we only have so much of it, time immortalizes art. It’s why we love old music, film, portraits, etc. These things created from all different minds give a snapshot of the past and inspire us for the future.

But then there’s that ticking clock – the anxiousness to make every second count is always in the back of the minds of creatives. That’s not to mention experiencing life with family, friends, significant others, and adventures – the soil in which creativity grows versus the capitalistic constraints of jobs, making money, and being fed into that machine. Time is a source of drive, but we must exist knowing that we will most certainly not birth every idea. However, it makes us want to make the ones we do count the most.

When I go for a daily walk or run an errand, I usually carry a small journal. Because I’m always thinking of something new, a podcast idea, etc. – I don’t necessarily want to miss making it real. Journalism has its limiting factors (trust me, there isn’t enough time in the day to get into it all) when it comes to those things, but you try to use that time and fight for those ideas so they spread and add to the minutes of this thing we love to do. I constantly battle this suspicion of the adage, “There’s not enough time in the day.” Often, there isn’t, and you have to make peace with that at some point. I cannot bargain with time itself, but I can use it as a partner to make things that will outlive me – that will keep my essence going.

When I first read that Scorsese quote, there was sadness. When I returned to it, I felt calm because I could use the time I had as I knew it. Maybe my destiny is not to slow the hand of time so I can create forever; instead, it’s my job to make an echo ripple through it so time can keep carrying it along.