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Gangs of New York (2002)

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In 1863, Amsterdam Vallon returns to the Five Points area of New York City seeking revenge against Bill the Butcher, his father's killer.

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(story), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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788 ( 268)
Nominated for 10 Oscars. Another 47 wins & 117 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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Reverend Raleigh (as Alec Mccowen)
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Jimmy Spoils (as Larry Gilliard Jr.)
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Storyline

Having seen his father killed in a major gang fight in New York, young Amsterdam Vallon is spirited away for his own safety. Some years later, he returns to the scene of his father's death, the notorious Five Points district in New York. It's 1863 and lower Manhattan is run by gangs, the most powerful of which is the Natives, headed by Bill "The Butcher" Cutting. He believes that America should belong to native-born Americans and opposes the waves of immigrants, mostly Irish, entering the city. It's also the time of the Civil War and forced conscription leads to the worst riots in US history. Amid the violence and corruption, young Vallon tries to establish himself in the area and also seek revenge over his father's death. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

America Was Born In The Streets.

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for intense strong violence, sexuality/nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

20 December 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pandillas de Nueva York  »

Box Office

Budget:

$100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,049,746 (Japan) (20 December 2002)

Gross:

$77,679,638 (USA) (11 April 2003)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Daniel Day-Lewis employed two circus performers to travel to his home in Wicklow, Ireland, to teach him how to throw thin, sharp daggers. He also went to work in a butcher's shop for several weeks to learn how to meticulously incise and gut carcasses. See more »

Goofs

US Navy vessels never fired on New York City during the draft riots. See more »

Quotes

Bill: He ain't earned a death! He ain't a death at my hands! No, he'll walk amongst you marked with shame, a freak worthy of Barnum's Museum of Wonders. God's only man, spared by the Butcher.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Noises from the modern day New York streets play over the second half of the closing credits. See more »

Connections

Featured in The 75th Annual Academy Awards (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Lament for Staker Wallace
Arranged and Performed by Eileen Ivers
Courtesy of Green Linnet Records Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Terrific Entertainment!
30 January 2003 | by (Elmira, NY) – See all my reviews

Gangs of New York is just perfect entertainment. It is an enthralling, bloody, melodramatic epic that more than justifies its two and one half hour running time. In Gangs director Martin Scorsese spins another tale of the New York underworld but with a twist. Instead of the mid-twentieth century organized crime milieu of Goodfellas, Scorsese ventures back to the 19th century to show us the origin of the modern street gang.

It's the early 1860s and the notorious Five Points slum is ruled by the savage `Bill the Butcher'. The viciously nationalistic Bill terrorizes all the immigrant masses jammed into his slum but seems to harbor a particular hatred for the Irish population. Into this seething cauldron wanders mysterious young Amsterdam Vallon who soon works his way into the trust and affection of Bloody Bill. Amsterdam, however, has a past with the unsuspecting Butcher and sports an agenda not unlike a certain Prince of Denmark. Bloody vengeance and dark betrayal soon come to pass, all played against a backdrop of corruption and unrest that lead to up to the horrors of New York Civil War draft riots.

Daniel Day-Lewis is marvelous as Bill the Butcher. His Bill is both recognizably human and a full bore, moustache-twirling villain. Day-Lewis strides his savage and profane way across the screen and steals the whole of the movie. The only other actor to approach Day-Lewis' level is Jim Broadbent as William 'Boss' Tweed. Broadbent is Tweed's spitting image and he makes the grasping old pirate so winning we find ourselves rooting for Tweed against the gaggle of reformers that infest his domain. Though Leonardo DiCaprio is the nominal lead of the picture he is overshadowed by his co-stars. Large, slope shouldered and vaguely brutish looking, DiCaprio is physically perfect for Amsterdam. While he could have used some of the fire and rage of a young James Cagney, DiCaprio's acting is superior throughout the movie. The problem is that Amsterdam just isn't as flashy a role as Bill or Tweed and, as good as DiCaprio is; Day-Lewis operates on a whole other level. Cameron Diaz as the beautiful pickpocket Jenny, never convinces that she is a product of the slums. Despite having considerable screen time, Diaz fades into the background when compared to her more powerful co-stars.

Just as important as the actors are to Gangs is the period atmosphere that drips off the screen. The amazing old New York set has an air of lived in reality that you could cut with a knife. You can almost smell the vermin. Gangs is entirely free of the embalmed feeling you get from most modern period movies. The cast handles the period argot as if it were their true speech and wear their costumes like lived-in clothing. You come away convinced that this is how the world looked and sounded in 1862.

Scorsese does eschew all nuance and subtlety in Gangs. Instead he tells his tale in wide, bold, exploitive and melodramatic strokes that make the movies two and a half hours fly by. Be warned that if you are waiting to see Gangs on DVD you are making a huge mistake. Gangs has to be seen at the theater. The detail and scope of the film cries out to be viewed in all its wide screen glory. This movie is a fantastic achievement.


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