Movie Critique: Gangs of New York

Topics: Gangs of New York, New York City, Conscription in the United States Pages: 4 (1339 words) Published: February 10, 2010
Jennifer Lawson
American History
Project #2
Movie Critique
Gangs of New York
“Gangs of New York” is a historical crime film which takes place in New Yorkin the 1840s-1860s. The film was released in 2002. It was directed by Martin Scorsese, and written by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan. It is loosely inspired by Herbert Asbury’s 1928 nonfiction book The Gangs of New York. The film was critically acclaimed with 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. The film begins in the winter of 1847, with a battle in the snow-covered streets of the Five Points between the Dead Rabbits and the Natives. The Five Points was a run-down slum in the middle of Manhattan. This is the first obvious inconsistency. The fight that is being portrayed in this scene did not actually take place until July 4, 1857 (Brown, 2003, p. 5). In reality, the gang referred to in the film as “the Natives” was actually called “The Bowery Boys”. This particular fight attracted much attention due to its “extraordinarily high” number of deaths and injuries and “because of the use of guns” (brown 2003 p.5). There were twelve deaths and 37 injuries as a result of this battle. As depicted in the film, the weaponry utilized in this famous battle consisted of brickbats, clubs and fists. However, the other weapons wielded in the on-screen battle, including cleavers and axes, were not historically accurate. Joshua Brown, executive director of the American Social History Project at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, noted that “the ensuing mutilations and massive body counts misrepresent the extent and nature of the antebellum gang violence.” (Brown, 2003, p. 5) The Five Points was an extremely dirty and run-down slum in Manhattan in the 1800s. Historians have said that there was a brothel in nearly every building (Eynon, 2007). As far as the dirtiness, clothing and poverty depicted in the film, most would agree that this is fairly...

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