Martin Scorsese is one of those directors who you can tell has a clear vision of what he wants to see up on the screen. While some directors might have vague ideas that eventually are realized within a healthy proximity to the images they want to convey (usually found in post), Scorsese is one of those minds who are not satisfied until every small detail of said vision is on display in meticulous detail. Think back to the opening of Hugo, with the beautiful imagery of Paris leading into a gorgeous, long take sweeping through a crowded train platform – all in gorgeous 3D to boot. That's not an accident, that's the result of carefully planned imagery, which Scorsese has long had a knack for, even when he was only 11.
Cinephilia And Beyond reprinted some storyboards that the director of Goodfellas, The Aviator, and The Departed drew up for a grand scale film that must have been inspired by the big directors of his youth. Entitled The Eternal City, Martin Scorsese dreamed of a sprawling epic starring the likes of Marlon Brando, Alec Guinness, Virginia Mayo, and even Richard Burton. The drawings are surprisingly ornate and also very colorful. Check out the awesome shading in the gold tunic at the center of this drawing:
Some of the images are just establishing shots of landscapes:
But most are focused of the main characters:
Seeing as these images were crafted in 1953, it's not a stretch of the imagination that a young Marty Scorsese was fresh from a screening of Marlon Brando's Julius Caesar, and immediately had images of how he's depict Rome in his own head. In fact, the drawing above looks like almost a direct lift from that very motion picture. Compare that image above to this still of Brando from Julius Caesar below.
Notice how the framing and even the placement of the actors is mimicked in his art. Even at an early age, Martin Scorsese knew when he liked an image, and let it influence in his own work.
It's amazing how much of the director's visual language you can see in these pictures, even at a formative age. These images aren't just fun to look at; this is Scorsese's young mind at work crafting a costume epic in the time of the genre's height. I wonder if the director remembers his vision for The Eternal City, and if so, I wonder if he'd ever be keen on returning to it seriously. It's been a while since that sort of film has actually landed on its feet, and with the recent success of Son Of God, perhaps audiences wouldn't mind seeing a couple more men in tunics and sandals talking of the reign of empires.
For now, we'll have to be content with Martin Scorsese's next film, Silence, which is currently in production and looking to be released on November 25, 2015.