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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Martin Scrosese's List of 85 Films Any Aspiring Filmmaker Needs To See

There’s no way around it. The best way to learn about movies, whether you want to make them or understand them as an art, is to watch them. Everyone will tell you this simple truth from professors in film schools to the “A” list Hollywood directors you aspire to emulate. To that end Martin Scorsese (who happens to be both) has created his own list of 85 “Must See” films.

The image above can be used as a link to a page that lists all 85 films the revered director recommends as a primer to anyone who wants to know more about the movies. This esteemed collection has taken shape over the span of Scorsese’s personal viewing experiences of a lifetime, one that has served him well as a filmmaker. Naturally, there are a few standard selections (Citizen Kane, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington), but for the most part the list is a refreshing mix of foreign, lesser known titles and cult films spanning many genres as well as the history of cinema. The list includes such films as America, America, Europa ’51, La Terra Trema and Pepping Tom.

It’s safe to say that no better cinematic scholar exists working within the industry. When it comes to knowing what’s what about the movies, Scorsese is the man everyone goes to for information about the past, present and future of the art form. So, a recommendation of any kind from this man should be taken with reverence, let alone adhered to.

Personally, I would have loved to have had a list like this when I was at NYU film school. I attended Tisch School of the Arts in a time before the internet. The best we could do back then was place our trust in the local revival houses and museums to play the best of what was available on film, as well as heed the suggestions made by the staff at the coolest video store that ever was: Mondo Kim’s Video on St. Mark's Place (sadly, it closed in 2009). Not a bad education in and out of the classroom, but many of those old venues have closed.

And while many big cities now have some great institutions that present classic films of all kinds on the big screen, not everyone lives near enough to a metropolis to take advantage of the variety offered by the likes of a Lincoln Center, Museum of Modern Art, or Getty Center. That’s where Must See Lists come into play. With the internet and the variety of classic movie channels that now exist you’ll be able to tackle just about any list. And you should try as many as possible.

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