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Scorsese and Sicily: between memory and poetry

Scorsese's roots are a constant in his narrative, so much so that he needed to reach the places of origin of his family in Palermo to find himself.

There are episodes in which memory marries history, where narrow streets, ancient churches and festivals give life over the years to a set of images, made of desire and knowledge, and then translate it into poetry. The Italian-American director Martin Scorsese has managed to give a soul to this impulse, telling in each of his films the essence of a country that he saw rebuilt in his Little Italy, and that he knew from stories and family memories.

Son of Luciano Charles Scorsese and Catherine Cappa, Martin grew up in Queens and then moved to Manhattan, where his asthma and poor health led him away from the neighborhood gang and closer to an inner searching, between religion and observation.

After abandoning seminary studies to devote himself exclusively to image narration, Scorsese begins the career that will see him create some of the greatest masterpieces in the history of cinema: from Taxi Driver to Out Out until The Wolf of Wall Street.

The love for Italy became a constant in his narrative, so much so that he felt compelled to reach the places of origin of his family, both in the province of Palermo (Polizzi Generosa, the village of his paternal grandparents, and Ciminna, of the maternal ones).

Scorsese travelled in 1979 to the town of his paternal grandparents, immediately reaching the city hall, looking for any information.

The impact with that office was at first devastating for him, since there were no references to his surname. Fortunately he soon discovered the misunderstanding: the original surname of his family was Scozzese, mistakenly transcribed with the ‘r’ and the ‘s‘ once they reached America.

So Martin got to know a little better this part of his family tree, that had remained hidden for so many years, and returned again to the island in 1990 with his parents.

Their Sicily was quite different from what they saw on that trip, but still retained all the magic and poetry that memory had passed down. The Scorsese's family had a real Sicilian holiday, at their cousins’ place,between hazel grove, photographs and good homemade food, hungry for news and images.

After that trip, pressing commitments made it increasingly difficult to return, but those feelings were well protected in the mind of director who knows how to propose them wisely and make them come to life in his stories, in the big screen.

His personal history and his origins are part of his success and of the poetry that has made him one of the greatest directors in the world and that made his Italian soul a real warhorse.

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