Director: Martin Scorsese
Gangs of New York is one of the most provocative films from Hollywood in recent times. It's also one of the most masterly and ambitious. Sprawling over 170 minutes, it's a demanding, challenging epic. Take the opening sequence: Two bands of tribal men marching through Gothic caves and recesses, fighting it out with axes, knives and clubs. It's totally prehistoric but real and, therefore, unsettling. The primitive low life that Scorsese creates cannot be the New York we know. Instead, it's the heart of darkness, the centre of corruption and lawlessness. That, perhaps, is his attempt to reach the barbaric roots of the acme of modern civilisation. And within this story of a city and a nation born in the mean streets, he expertly weaves a personal tale of a son's quest for revenge and his return to honour.