Gangs of New York

Amsterdam Vallon: Leonardo DiCaprio
Bill the Butcher: Daniel Day-Lewis
Jenny Everdeane: Cameron Diaz
Priest Vallon: Liam Neeson
“Boss” Tweed: Jim Broadbent
Happy Jack: John C. Reilly
Johnny: Henry Thomas
Monk: Brendan Gleeson
P.T. Barnum: Roger Ashton-Griffiths

Miramax Films presents a film directed by Martin Scorsese. Written by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan. Running time: 165 minutes. Rated R (for intense strong violence, sexuality/nudity and language).

Central Theme
Much of man’s history, past, present and future, is a futile story of fallen men, driven by hatred and revenge, killing and dying for forgotten causes that seemed important and justified at the time.

New York City, 1863. Before there was the city we know today, a city of wealth, power and infinite dreams, New York was a very different place, a fledgling young city where the desire for a better life raged in crime-ridden streets. Here, as the Nation’s own survival was being tested by the ongoing Civil War, a vast and dangerous underworld was born in the streets. These were the gangs of New York, as portrayed in Herbert Asbury’s classic book, whose racketeering, bootlegging, swindling, gambling and murdering would become legendary ¢€œ and whose culture of corruption threatened the very survival of America’s working people.

In the young, unfinished City, it was a time of ruthlessness, intolerance and fear. But it was also a time of extraordinary bravery, as those pushed to the edge fought for the freedom of future generations. Director Martin Scorsese sets his epic drama GANGS OF NEW YORK in this defining moment in New York City history, an era whose conflicts helped define who and what makes an American. Against the backdrop of this brave new world unfolds a story about a fatherless son’s search for honor, vengeance and the courage to remake his life.

Scorsese says: “Ever since I was a child growing up in Lower Manhattan, I was drawn to stories of Old New York. Each day, as I explored the neighborhood streets, I slowly uncovered clues to an extraordinary but relatively unknown period in the City’s and our country’s history. The 1860s seemed to overflow with unbelievable stories of the working classes; of the waves of immigrants who crowded the streets and alleyways; of the corrupt politicians; and of the legends of the underworld who fought to control it all.
They are the stories of the testing of America and what the young country stood for. They are the stories of our roots.”

GANGS OF NEW YORK introduces today’s world to the Five Points, a dark, teeming corner of the city known to New Yorkers of long ago as the center of vice and chaos. Into this frontier of extreme lawlessness, arrives the young Irish American Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio). Amsterdam is the orphaned son of the slain Priest Vallon ¢€œ once chief warrior of the Dead Rabbits gang that rallied the Irish immigrants of the Five Points ¢€œ and a man intent on a reckoning.

After 16 long years in a “House of Refuge,” Amsterdam has returned to the Five Points to hunt down his father’s killer. His target is William Cutting AKA “Bill the Butcher” (Daniel Day-Lewis), who has since become the merciless new leader of the neighborhood, a Nativist who detests the newly arrived immigrants and is determined to fend off all so-called “foreign invaders.” Each year, on the anniversary of Priest Vallon’s death, the victory is commemorated with a celebration ¢€œ with invitations handed out only by way of the Butcher. Amsterdam’s plan is clear: to lie in wait and slay his father’s killer on this, the annual night when the Butcher celebrates his great victory with a roll of the drum and a sip from a glass of fire. As Amsterdam articulates, “when you kill a king, you don’t stab him in the dark. You kill him where the whole court can watch him die.”

While waiting for that night, Amsterdam works his way deep into the Butcher’s inner circle, a world of alternating honor and cruelty from which he can only hope to escape. But the closer he gets to Bill, the more he falls under his spell and becomes conflicted ¢€œ playing the role of the man’s surrogate son while keeping the true secret of his past in the shadows. But finally, when his identity is revealed, Amsterdam realizes that an organized Irish populace could take on Bill’s Nativist Army. His destiny changes, and
he becomes a leader of his people.

At the same time, Amsterdam meets Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz), an enigmatic pickpocket whose quicker-than-the-eye hands and fierce independence fascinate him. When details of her closely linked past with Bill the Butcher emerge, the relationship between the three only intensifies. Amsterdam’s fight for family honor, freedom and to protect the woman he now loves ultimately collides with a pivotal moment in New York and American history: the 1863 Civil War Draft Riots. This urban uprising, fueled by new Americans like Amsterdam, will have repercussions that will spread through the Five Points to the halls of Government and beyond, and reveal a tenacious spirit in the city that endures. Miramax Notes‚©

Beliefs num
–America was born on the streets.
–The sins of the fathers are visited on the sons.
–Live by the sword die by the sword.
–Religion takes every side in battle, justifies your cause but will not help you win.
–In society every man is for himself.
–In a lawless society, he who is most feared rules.
–In a lawful society the appearance of laws is more important than justice.
–The wealthy will find a way to control and manipulate the poor and a most effective way is to keep them divided.
–Great civilizations are forged in the furnace of lawlessness, injustice and wrongdoing.
–Revenge is futile.
–Racial, religious, class division and hatred is at the heart of America’s history.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–Are there causes worth fighting and dying for?
–What are they?
–Is history past, present and future really futile?
–Is there a just cause in any conflict? In Gangs of New York was any group more justified in their actions than the other?
–Is religion a sham and an opiate, or does it play a useful role in society?
–How is American society today similar and dissimilar from the America portrayed in Gangs of New York?
–Does America, in part or whole, resemble the Five Corners of New York in the 1800’s? Could it ever again?
–What was Scorsese’s agenda or message in this film?

Provocative Quotes byline
–No son. Never. The blood stays on the blade.
==Priest Vallon.
–St. Michael. He cast Satan out of hell.
==Young Vallon on why Michael is his father’s patron Saint.
–Is this the pope’s new army? May the Christian Lord guide my hand against your Roman power.
==Bill the Butcher mocks Vallon’s motley crew and prays.
–Oh my son. Never look away.
==Vallon’s dying words to son at his death.
–Ears and noses shall be the trophy of the day. But no hand shall touch him. He’ll cross over whole.
==Bill the Butcher shows respect for the dead Vallon.
–Give him to the law. See that he gets a good education.
==Bill sends young Vallon off to Hellgate Home of Reform.
–The Lord has forgiven you. You must also forgive.
==Priests final words as young Vallon leaves Hellgate (right before he throws away his Bible.)
–It was not really a city. It was more like a furnace where a city one day might be forged.
==Amsterdam about NYC upon his return.
— Mulberry Street and Worth, Cross and Orange and Little Water.Each of the Five Points is a Finger and when I close my hand
it becomes a fist.
==Bill the Butcher
–The appearance of the law must be upheld, especially when it is being broken,
==Boss Tweed.
–I don’t see no Americans I see trespassers.
==Bill to Tweed about the new population.
–Maybe not. But we’re deep thinkers.
==Amsterdam to Jenny when she remarks about his flawed conversational skills.
–When you kill a king, you don’t stab him in the dark. You kill him where the whole court can watch him die.
==Amsterdam about his plan for revenge against Bill.
–On the seventh day the Lord rested. But before he did he squatted over England. And what came out of Him was Ireland.
==Bill derisive about Irish.
–I leave you in the grace and favor of the Lord.
==Jenny’s phrase as she leaves her latest mark.
–It’s a funny thing being taken under the wing of a dragon. It’s warmer than you think.
==Amsterdam on his closeness to Bill.
–For all his faults your father was a man who loved his people.
==Monk revealing he knows Amsterdam’s identity.
–Yes You!
==Jenny when Amsterdam asks if there is any man in 5 points she hasn’t f—ed.
–I’m 47. You know how I stayed alive this long? Fear. That’s what preserves the order of things.
==Bill to Amsterdam.
–I killed the last honorable man 15 years ago. The priest and me we lived by the same principles. It was only faith that divided us.
–That was the first beating I ever took. When he came to finish me I couldn’t look him in the eye. He saved me because he wanted me to live in shame. This was a great man.
==Bill describing Priest Vallon’s decision to spare him.
–He was the only man I killed worth remembering.
==Bill about Priest Vallon.
–May God put the strength of the Holy Spirit in my spine and the love of the blessed virgin in my heart. Amen. With this knife that struck him down let me put to rest my father’s ghost.
==Amsterdam Vallon on the way to his failed attempt to kill Bill.
–He’s not who he says he is. The only thing he considers every day and night is how to kill you. His name is Vallon.
==Johnny’s betrayal of Vallon to Bill.
–The heart? This boy has no heart. He ain’t earned death at my hands. He’ll walk by you in shame. Amsterdam? I AM New York
==Bill spares but disfigures Vallon.
—-Enough of this Asian music. It’s a night for America!
==Bill at the anniversary of Vallon’s death.
–I’ve got 44 notches in my club to remind me what I owe God when I die.
==Monk to Vallon on his distaste for what he ash done.
–I want you personally to go out and punish the man responsible for killing this poor little rabbit.
==Bill to cop when Vallon resurrects the Dead Rabbit Gang.
–There are more of us coming off the ships everyday. 15,000 Irish a week. Get all of us t=together and we ain’t got a gang. We got an army. All we need is a spark. Something to wake us up.
==Vallon about the Irish population.
–The first war to win isn’t down in Dixie. It’s right here in these streets!
==Candidate Monk McGinn
–A native is a man who is willing to give his life for his country like my daddy.
–The first rule of politics. The ballots don’t make the vote. The counters make the vote.
==Boss Tweed.
–I know your works. You are neither cold or hot. Because you are lukewarm I will spew you out of my mouth. I killed the father. I’ll kill the son.
–I give you my word; This will all be finished tomorrow.
==Amsterdam to Jenny the night before the four day riots.
–Thank God I die a true American.
==Bill at his death.
–For the rest of time it would be like no one ever knew we was here.

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