"Gangs of New York" received ten nominations for the 75th Academy Awards this year. Nominations included best film, best actor for Daniel Day-Lewis, best original screenplay, and best director.
The story takes off with a bloody battle between the "native" gangs, composed of (mostly English) Americans, and the Catholic Irish-immigrants, fighting for control of the Five Points, where the five busiest streets of New York intersect. During this carnage in 1846, an Irish boy witnesses his father die at the hands of a native gang leader William Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), also known as "Bill the Butcher." 16 years later, the little boy grows up to be Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) and returns to New York City in the turbulent 1860s to seek revenge for his father? death.
Violence and brutal hate, political corruption, lawlessness and poverty stand unchallenged in the dark streets of New York. Street dwellers rob from a burning house, while municipal and metropolitan firefighters scuffle over who got there first. Natives throw huge stones at the newly-arriving Irish immigrants, calling them foreign invaders, and mock the popery. Political leaders whose only concern was the upcoming election grant food and U.S. citizenship as soon as immigrants set foot on the harbor. And as if feeling these dramatized generous acts were not enough, the corrupt political officials join hands with the most powerful gangs of New York, the Natives, to do their dirty business for more votes.
In return, the gangs earn money, loyalty, and power from the weaker links. It was a power that granted them the privilege to even walk away freely, after stabbing a sheriff in the back with a butcher knife in the open street in daylight.
All these scenes were filmed based on historical data on workings of the underworld of New York City. As a matter of fact, the real life Bill the Butcher was killed in a New York City inn only a few years before 1863. To keep Bill the Butcher alive until 1860s, director Scorsese created a new character, William Cutting, by adding some fictious details in Bill? life.
Another fictious aspect of this film is the love triangle among William, Amsterdam, and their lover, Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz). Diaz plays a character in her twenties earning a living as a deceitful pickpocket who later turns into a passionate and faithful lover.
Claimed as the next "Titanic" by some critics, "Gangs of New York" depicts grand and realistic settings in New York and its harbor, ensuring that viewers will keep their eyes glued to the screen for the whole three hours of the movie. "The best picture of the year. A landmark film from director Scorsese. A hot-blooded and haunting epic for the ages," comments Peter Traverse of Rolling Stone.
People in hopes of acquiring in-depth details on what went on in the background during the time of the American Civil War will find this film interesting and entertaining.