11 Brilliantly Controversial Martin Scorsese Moments

Dwarf tossing, drugs, candle sodomy, and public masturbation. And that's just Wolf Of Wall Street.

Since exploding on the scene with 1973's Mean Streets, Martin Scorsese has fearlessly taken dead aim at the darkest facets of modern life, the seedy underbelly of existence that most refuse to acknowledge. The unpredictable nature of Scorsese's work has led forty years worth of audiences to consider terrible people as heroes, acts of terror as cries for help, substances as both business and crutch, and yesterday's heroes as today's villains. All of his films consider the fallibility of man not as an error, but part of our nature. Though the characters are hateful, there is a means by which one can connect to and sympathize with both their successes and failures. At the conclusion of a Martin Scorsese film, there is always catharsis. The sheer emotional power of his work seeks to make us accept ourselves as both imperfect and unique. In this way, Martin Scorsese is able to address the most controversial subjects with grace. His latest film, The Wolf of Wall Street, similarly refuses to shy away from a tidy portrait of financial tomfoolery, instead lampooning and deifying the stockbrokers through the perspective of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). With vulgar displays of wealth and power, the film entrances the viewer, enticing with the seeming ease by which Belfort makes his fortune, yet terrifying when compared to the instability of Belfort's personal life. Certainly irreverent, clearly pointed in its commentary, Wolf on Wall Street adds to an already lengthy list of controversial moments from Martin Scorsese, a man who always approaches the taboo with respect and genuine interest.

11. Raging Bull - Jake LaMotta Taking Abuse

Raging Bull was a film Martin Scorsese dodged directing during the second half of the 1970s, despite the efforts of Robert De Niro who was a devoted fan of Jake LaMotta's biography. The story of a broken man fighting for his own glory when all else has turned to nothing, Raging Bull became a point of contention between the two friends. Finally, after suffering an near fatal overdose, Scorsese agreed to take on the project. The film turned out to be a great critical triumph for both men. For Scorsese, the film will forever be mentioned in arguments over his best work along with Goodfellas and Taxi Driver. For De Niro, it became an Oscar-winning performance, exuding the tragedy of Jake LaMotta while treating the man with a respect he was so often denied. The role did, however, call for De Niro to make several sacrifices, physically and mentally. A method actor to the core, De Niro would force Joe Pesci to punch him in the face multiple times, and would later beat his fists raw against a concrete wall after being thrown in jail, all while undergoing massive weight swings to portray LaMotta at every stage of his life. Scorsese, to his credit, worked tirelessly with De Niro to bring out this performance, and the bond of trust evidenced by the film remains one of the most important cinematic works to date. Only a director trusting his actor as if he were a member of his own family could bring about an emotional cataclysm for the ages.

Jack Manley is an aspiring writer, filmmaker, and artist from Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. He currently resides in New York City.