11.07.2019 in Review

Gangs of New York Essay

The History of the United States as it documented by scholars continues to fascinate the many stakeholders who are interested in it. Its documentation has evolved from the very first scribbles of gladiators on the walls of rock caves to the modern technological advancements. The city of New York in particular has a rich history that narrates its state since its creation to date. One of the scholars who have contributed to writing the history of New York was the author Herbert Asbury, an American Journalist who wrote the book Gangs of New York. The book contains a narration of an informal history of New York in the 18th century. It is a detailed narration of the city life, including the people who lived there at the time, their lifestyles, the crimes and struggles that they went through and the administration of the city. The author, who is famous for his work of writing about true crimes, concentrates most on the mayhem caused by the gangs in the city, how they affected people’s life and made history (Asbury).

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In the book, records of gang related chaos, murder, betrayal, arson, prostitution, robbery, corruption and crooked government bodies are the highlights. These occurrences are accurate because they have their origin quoted from the daily newspapers of the time. Issues of racism and immigration offences also appear in the book whose plot is on a city with the Americans, the Irish and the African Americans. It is a nonfictional entertaining read with creative suspense and pictures to back up the narration. In the year 2002, a historical film written by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan used the book to make its cast. The movie directed by Martin Scorsese made in Cinecitta in Rome and distributed by Miramax Films attracted numerous awards for its accuracy and best picture. The plot of the film is in the 18th century in the city of New York. The key elements are the chaos brought about by the Irish gangs, whose main aim is to eliminate the African American gangs due to their fear of competition in business as more slaves get freedom. At the same time, the federal government had executions taking place due to the civil war that was ongoing at the time. In the movie, Irish and African American gang leaders take the lead characters, as they get involved in confrontations that result in massive deaths. The film bases its narration on historical facts and the directors do a good job on accurately displaying that. The Character of Amsterdam Vallon, played by Leonardo DiCaprio confronts the natives’ boss played by Bill the Butcher who in real life is Daniel Day Lewis. The confrontation is a recreation of factual New York riots that took place in the year 1863.

The setting of the plot is convincing, as the location resembles the city of New York in the 18th century. The language used in the film is a good depiction of the time that the plot is set. Characters that play the parts of the natives and the loyalties have a legitimate diction on their accents. This gives the film a sense of originality and truth to the facts incorporated. The clothing used by the cast also gives the film a factual sense since they clad in clothing that resembles that of the 18th century. The music used in the movie creates a feeling of the true times that the plot is set. The color and effects used in the production also play a vital role in making it look more real. The dramatic events that take place in the cast give the story a sideline story that gives the historical events a normal feel as they relate with the normal life of the individuals involved. The main story is about the struggles of the slaves who were set free and how they faced racism in town where they had to form gangs to protect their own, as the authorities were too corrupt to protect them. The personal drama unfolding within the characters as used by the directors give the film an intriguing edge that the audience can relate with, so that it does not come out as a documentary. The film has incorporated the use of excessive violence, betrayal, foul language, explicit content and nudity. This is offensive to the modern viewer, but its importance to recreate the real times of the movie plot where the events surrounding New York were of that nature. The movie is set to portray how the immigrants suffered under the murderous natives as the story unfolds of their leader trying to avenge his father. There are no moral values portrayed as the gangs revenge and avenge upon each other, but their actions are justified by the times that they lived.

The movie highlights some aspects of American History whose elaboration is not in books of history. The struggles of racial inequality and political hypocrisy tackled as day-to-day lives of the New York dwellers that went through experiences, led to a revolution in equality campaigns. The violence and pervasiveness makes the viewer appreciate how much the city has changed over time, thus creating a new appreciation for it at the end of the film. In conclusion, the story has covered most of the major occurrences of the time. The directors ensured that the viewers enjoy it by using well-known celebrities and a story filled with drama and suspense. The historical background of the movie gives it an acceptance as a true story, even though some of the events are fiction. The views of the writer come out through the characters since his aim is to portray history as it occurred in the time. It was a successful attempt to display a recreation of significant historical events.

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