With the edge of the truth in the words and Martin Scorsese's use of 8mm home movies (1.37:1 aspect ratio) nestled inside the 35mm (1.85:1 "Academy Flat" aspect ratio) of the film proper, we open on the haunted and tormented bull that is Harvey Keitel passing a crucifix on the way to facing himself. We inch inward as he lays his head to the sounds of "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes, and trip the lens-lit rabbit hole with film formats that coddle the credits.
Director Martin Scorsese (from 2004 DVD):
It's kind of difficult to talk about how and why [Mean Streets] was made. When I think about the film and think about the time in my life having made the film and having been, in a sense, a part of the way of life that is depicted in the film, it seems to, in my mind, be the final culmination of everything of what I was to do and who I am. In my mind, it's not really a film – it's a declaration or a statement of who I am and how I was living; those thoughts and dilemmas and conflicts were very much a part of my life up to that point in time. They couldn't be expressed in any other way [other than] resulting in this movie.
There is no message. It's something that came out of me organically. The only way to express it was: camera and dialog and actors and color and music. In my mind it was a representation of who I was, my friends, and where I came from. The genesis was my life.
Scorsese's cathectic rationale with his 8mm footage carries the whip and whisper of an era so rich with detail, so crackingly vibrant, that the memories are real enough to call your own.
Director: Martin Scorsese