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Martin Scorsese on Visual Literacy

Martin Scorsese

In a previous post we discussed how visual storytelling, through the use of staging, lighting, and shot composition aided and enriched the movie “There Will Be Blood”. To follow up on that point, here is a great video essay by Martin Scorsese (hosted by Edutopia) that, among other things, explains the importance of what he calls “visual literacy”:

Some quick points of interest:

– His case for teaching visual literacy to children is highly compelling, especially as we move towards more dynamic and integrated forms of knowledge consumption. It is not a stretch to assume most folks in this country get an increasing amount of their information visually.

– In addition, his point that movies are strong propaganda tools only makes the fact that some teachers use them to get an afternoon “off” more disappointing. The fact is, most Americans use the movies (specifically) and screens (more generally) to “escape”, because that’s how we’ve been taught to view them. The reality is that norms and stereotypes are being produced and solidified before our eyes and, for the most part, audiences are unaware of this manipulation. We will return to this point in a future post.

– Finally, his discussion of the violence in his movies is an interesting one, especially as it relates to his upbringing. Violence is obviously a sexy form of entertainment, as we are (again) reminded with films like “The Revenant” and “The Hateful 8” opening recently. But does the artist have carte blanche to use it as a form of expression, or is there a moral obligation to show both the cause-and-effect, like Scorsese seems to be arguing?

That’s all for now, folks!