Martin Scorsese, Elia Kazan: A Letter to Elia, Documentary
The subtle, beautiful elegy on filmmaker Elia Kazan by Martin Scorsese is appropriately titled, “A Letter to Elia,” because it appears like a personal literary essay, by one master to another.
However, the power of this film lies not in the expository but in the poignant relation to another human being–Marty, and this deeply felt but never ogling personal approach made me feel like Scorsese was talking just to me. This was quite moving.
I’ve know several of Kazan’s famous works (On the Waterfront, Street Car Named Desire, East of Eden), but what was striking was how the clips of these and other films were used: they were there for Marty to reveal what mattered to him, his emotional resonances, his interests.
I loved the part where an emotional scene from East of Eden played (I think?) and Marty explained how it fit within the context of Kazan’s oeuvre; moments later, the exact scene was played and Marty–now the filmmaker and fan– espoused why it worked cinematicly, noting the lighting, the sound, the editing, the framing. Brilliant, I thought, in a subtle way.
I love the end, with the snap shots of Marty and Kazan, the quick visual reference to other directors (Godard, Antonioni, etc.)–all of felt quietly personal yet elegiac.
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