Analysis of Gangs of New York

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Gangs of New York � PAGE �4�

Analysis of Gangs of New York

HUM/150: Introduction to Film Studies

Workshop 5

Word Count: 2083

Analysis of Gangs of New York

In 2002, Martin Scorsese teamed up with Miramax Films to direct Gangs of New York, a film he had dreamed of making since the 1970s. With a $97 million budget, the film was a box-office flop, grossing only $190 million worldwide. Nevertheless, Gangs of New York earned 10 Academy Award nominations, and won two Golden Globe Awards for Best Director and Best Song, "The Hands That Built America" by U2 (

The Cast and the Plot

The three main characters in Gangs of New York are Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio), William Cutting aka Bill 'the Butcher' (Daniel Day-Lewis), and Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz). Other notable characters include Priest Vallon, Amsterdam's father (Liam Neeson), Johnny Sirocco (Henry Thomas), and 'Happy' Jack Mulroney (John C.


The story opened in 1846 at the Five Points in New York City, known today as Lower Manhattan. Amsterdam's father, Priest Vallon, was the leader of a gang of Irish immigrants called "The Dead Rabbits". Bill Cutting was the leader if a street gang called "The Natives", which was comprised of first generation Americans. The Natives were racist toward all immigrants, and they resented the fact that so many Irish had taken over New York. The Irish, on the other hand, resented being treated like second-class citizens. Gang warfare broke out between these two rival gangs. Six-year-old Amsterdam Vallon watched the grisly fight unfold in the streets of the Five Points, and he witnessed Bill Cutting murder Priest Vallon in cold blood. Amsterdam escaped, and an orphanage incarcerated him for sixteen years.

In 1862, Amsterdam returned to New York City as a young man, intent on...