A yellow taxi cab emerges from a shroud of steam to the straining chords of Bernard IIerrmann‘s eerie musical score. Filtering the grim reality of the streets through an unhinged Vietnam veteran‘s nocturnal wanderings. 'Iax'i Driver provided a view of New York (‘ity unlike anything seen before.

With his I976 masterpiece. director .Martin Scorsese was bringing the streets of his childhood to the big screen and. as with his earlier film Mean Streets. his storytelling redefined modern cinema. Although much of Scorsese's subsequent work is set in New York. it has been almost 25 years since the director got down and dirty on the streets themselves. His new film. Bringing (hit The Dead. changes that.

Spanning 56 hours over two days and three nights. Bringing Out The Dead accompanies Iimergency Medical Service paramedic Frank Pierce (played by Nicolas ('age) on the job through the streets of Hell‘s Kitchen in New York‘s West Side. Like Taxi Driver‘s insomniac Travis Bickle. Pierce is burning out. Bicklc suffers a moral crisis which he redeems through an act of violence: Pierce‘s is a spiritual crisis for which he is seeking grace. As he did with 72m Driver which also boasted a screenplay by Paul Schrader Scorsese pushes his storytelling techniques to the limit to make Piercc's midnight odyssey an extraordinarily visceral experience.

Bleak. but shot through with black humour. the film switches between elegy and moments of ecstatic release as Pierce alternately questions his work and hinges on drink and drugs in order to carry it out. L'Itimately. what defines the film is Scorsese's relationship to the source material. As with Mean Streets". 'Iax'i Driver and the best of his films.

this relationship is a deeply personal one. both in terms of

its religious underpinnings and its urban geography. Scorsese was born and grew up in Manhattan; these are the neighbourhoods he knows inside ottt. i 'The images come

from the music and t r: .9; {A . f: I

from the streets that I

really know.’ ._ confirms the director. ‘We lived on the Lower Iiast Side: it was always alive. We had three grocery stores on the block. two butchers. a funeral parlour. There

were trucking companies. people yelling in the streets. people like you see in Italian movies —- Neapolitans or Sicilians yelling at each other. and there were always people whistling.

'Music was always going through my neighbourhood.i he continues. ‘Iivery time I saw a procession in the street. there was an Italian band playing. As they would go by. operas would be coming from the fourth floor window. And it was summertime and the jttkcboxcs were playing when I was thirteen years old rock 'n' roll became popular. So when I'm watching a religious procession or two bums fighting in the street. that music is playing. and that‘s basically how I saw it.‘

Arguably. it's the use of music. more than anything else. that Scorsese can be credited with revolutionising in cinema. Rock ‘n' roll. Motown. classical. opera. the great croonet's —- they all go into Scorsese‘s mix. In Bringing (hit The l)(’(l(/. R.Ii.M.. Jane’s Addiction and The ('Iash play alongside Martha Reeves And The Vandellas. I"rank Sinatra and Stravinsky.

But whistling Italian street vendors and musical processions don't sound particularly traumatic. It’s difficult to reconcile those sounds and images with what BickIe and Pierce witness during their nocturnal forays. ‘I live mostly at night.’ explains Scorsese. Ah yes. night and the city. ‘When I was three. I had terrible asthma attacks and I was told I was incapacitated. My parents were uneducated people and they gave me medication that makes you speedy. I was hidden in a room in the dark and couldn‘t play. so I started using my imagination. I became used to being tip at night and it was disturbing. I grew tip downtown. in a gritty area right off The Bowery. where the derelicts were dying in the streets. I saw everything as a child in the street: sex. fighting. robbery. I saw a bum falling asleep in the street while someone stole his shoes.'

72m Driver was a commercial and critical

success; coming off that film. Scorsese and

his star. Robert De Niro. were hot stuff. De

1}; Niro had a script about the boxer Jake I.a Motta that he wanted Marty to make. but Scorsese was more interested in re-inventing

the Hollywood musical. So they made New

York. New York and it flopped. A period of

depression. anxiety and narcotic excess followed. After his concert film featuring The Band. Tllt’ Last Waltz Scorsese finally got around to De Niro's boxing film. which became what many consider his greatest work. Raging Bull.