Gangs of New York (2002)
Gangs of New York is a 2002 American epic period drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of New York City. The screenplay is by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan. It was inspired by Herbert Asbury’s 1927 non-fiction book, The Gangs of New York. It was made in Cinecittà, Rome, distributed by Miramax Films and nominated for numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture, among nine other Oscar nominations.
The film is set in 1863 and follows fictional gang leader William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) in his roles as crime boss and political kingmaker under the helm of “Boss” Tweed (Jim Broadbent). The film culminates in a violent confrontation between Cutting and his mob with the protagonist Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio)and his allies, which prefaces the real-life New York Draft Riots of 1863. It was released on December 20, 2002 and grossed $193 million worldwide.In the slum neighborhood of Five Points, Manhattan in 1846, two gangs have a final battle in Paradise Square: the nativist, Protestant “Natives” led by William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting, and the Irish Catholic immigrant “Dead Rabbits” led by “Priest” Vallon. Bill kills Vallon and declares the Dead Rabbits outlawed. Having witnessed this, Vallon’s young son hides the knife that killed his father and is taken to an orphanage on Blackwell’s Island.
Sixteen years later, Vallon’s son, now called Amsterdam, returns to Five Points seeking revenge and retrieves the knife. An old acquaintance, Johnny Sirocco, familiarizes him with the local clans of gangs and thieves, all of whom pay tribute to Bill, who controls the neighborhood. Amsterdam is finally introduced to Bill, but keeps his past a secret, seeking to be recruited. He learns that many of his father’s former loyalists are now in Bill’s employ. Each year, Bill celebrates the anniversary of his victory over the Dead Rabbits; Amsterdam plans to murder him publicly during this celebration.Amsterdam becomes attracted to pickpocket and grifter Jenny Everdeane, with whom Johnny is infatuated. Amsterdam gains Bill’s confidence and Bill becomes his mentor, involving him in the dealings of corrupt Tammany Hall politician William M. Tweed. Amsterdam saves Bill from an assassination attempt, and is tormented by the thought that he may have done so out of honest devotion.
On the evening of the anniversary, Johnny, in a fit of jealousy over Jenny, reveals Amsterdam’s true identity and intentions to Bill. Bill baits Amsterdam with a knife throwing act involving Jenny. As Bill toasts Priest Vallon, Amsterdam throws his knife, but Bill deflects it and wounds Amsterdam with a counter throw. Bill proclaims that rather than dying, Amsterdam shall live in shame, and burns his cheek with a hot blade. Going into hiding, Jenny nurses Amsterdam back to health and implores him to escape with her to San Francisco.Amsterdam, however, returns to the Five Points seeking vengeance, and announces his return by hanging a dead rabbit in Paradise Square. Bill sends a member of his gang to investigate, but Amsterdam kills him and hangs his body in the square. In retaliation, Bill has Johnny severely beaten and run through with a pike, leaving it to Amsterdam to end his suffering. The incident garners newspaper coverage, and Tweed presents Amsterdam with a plan to defeat Bill’s influence: Tweed will back the candidacy of Monk McGinn for sheriff. Monk wins in a landslide, and a humiliated Bill murders him. McGinn’s death prompts Amsterdam to challenge Bill to a gang battle in Paradise Square.
City draft riots break out just as the gangs are preparing to fight, and Union Army soldiers are deployed to control the rioters. As the rival gangs face off, cannon fire from naval ships is fired directly into Paradise Square. Between the cannons and soldiers, many of the gang members are killed. Bill and Amsterdam face off against one another until Bill is severely wounded by a piece of shrapnel. He is finally killed by Amsterdam, who, along with Jenny,
leaves New York and starts a new life in San Francisco.Directed by Martin Scorsese this is one of the best movies Leonardo Di Caprio. A historical drama that takes place in 1863 and depicts the birth of the New York city and the gangs that attempted to rule the city. The film is historically very informative and incredibly adventurous too.