Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Scorsese’s success as a director owes a lot to his penchant for lengthy stories that present a thorough and convincing character study for their lead actor.
Two and a half hours was enough to convince viewers that the gangster life of Henry Hill in Goodfellas was not something to be tried at home, and three hours was enough to for the audience to sympathise and learn from the mistakes of Jordan Belfort in Wolf of Wall Street.
To be fair, if Scorsese produced a film with a simple runtime of an hour and a half, fans would start to worry that everyone’s favourite biopic director had lost his touch.
The news of The Irishman‘s runtime comes as Netflix announces it will forfeit the film’s release in mainstream cinemas around the world, only allowing it to be shown in niche and independent cinemas whose clientele don’t mind sitting down for three and a half hours.
But when you think that’s a long time to sit and watch a performance, just remember that most of Richard Wagner’s operas have been avoided by most theatre companies due to their 4-5 hour-long runtimes. Something I’m sure many 19th Century Germans wish they had known before they arrived at the theatre after a long and hard day at work.
As a result of this decision by Netflix, it looks like those Scorsese fans who have thus far avoided paying the £6.99 monthly subscription to the site will now either have to sign up to watch it. Produced by Robert De Niro’s own film company TriBeCa Productions, Netflix is reported to have spent $105 million to acquire the worldwide rights to the film back in 2017.
In an interview with Associated Press back in June, Scorsese claims that Netflix was the only retailer willing to financially back the movie’s production on the understanding that it would only have a limited release in cinemas.
‘We decided to make it with the understanding that it’ll maybe never be shown in theatres,’ Scorsese said. ‘They said, “You would have a time in theatres” – a few weeks or whatever. I said fine. The idea was to make the movie, you see.’
Based on the best-selling book by Charles Brandt, The Irishman sees De Niro play Frank Sheeran, a veteran of the Second World War who returned to the USA to become a labour unionist moonlighting as an assassin for the Mafia.
Al Pacino joins him in the top billing as Jimmy Hoffa, a shady trade union boss who went missing in 1975. This is the fourth time that De Niro and Pacino have worked together since they appeared as father and son (albeit not sharing scenes) in The Godfather Part II.
The Irishman is also the ninth collaboration of De Niro with Scorsese, and fans will be ecstatic to learn the two have already set forth in motion a tenth project that will include Leonardo DiCaprio.
Like most of Scorsese’s dramas, the film will span several decades supported by the lengthy runtime. As has become popular among movie studios since Marvel gave Robert Downey Jr a facelift in Captain America: Civil War, VFX has been used to allow 76-year-old De Niro to play the character all the way through his life.
It might not be perfect, but it’s got to be better than the old methods of using younger actors that look nothing like their older counterparts. I’m alluding of course to the last Harry Potter film, where Harry was told by a dying Snape that he had his mother’s lovely blue eyes, which was then disproved by a flashback that showed his young mother’s eyes as being brown.
The Irishman will be released in niche cinemas on November 1 before its Netflix premiere on November 27. And yes, before you ask, it will be able to compete in the 2020 Oscars.
Images via Netflix
Max is an awkward Medievalist struggling with ever evolving technology. When not writing for The Hook, he can be found attending self-help classes for his decade-long addiction to KFC. His greatest achievements include getting blocked by Owen Jones on Twitter and completing the Metro quick crossword in just under twenty-seven hours.Follow