Brow Beat

This Video Essay Breaks Down Scorsese’s Big, Bright, Shining Influence on Boogie Nights

The final shot of Boogie Nights is an homage to the final shot of Raging Bull.
The final shot of Boogie Nights is an homage to the final shot of Raging Bull.

Stills from the video. Illustration by Slate.

It’s no secret that Boogie Nights is heavily influenced by Martin Scorsese. From its extended opening shot, which winds its way into and around a nightclub, it brings to mind Goodfellas and its famous long take winding through the Copacabana. Similarly, its last shot, which shows the main character giving himself an extended pep talk in the mirror, is a clear homage to Raging Bull.

But this new video essay from Jorge Luengo Ruiz (via Indiewire) shows just how deep the Scorsese influence goes. In between those opening and closing shots, there are the whip pans, the rapid-fire close-ups of flashbulbs, the iris shots, and the emphatic camera moves that push in on a character right as he snorts a line of cocaine, before panning up to show his reaction.

Not every technique here necessarily comes straight from Scorsese. Some could be traced back further to the French New Wave, while the shot in which the camera eases into the pool behind a bikini-clad woman is an homage to the propaganda film Soy Cuba. But Anderson has never been shy about Scorsese’s influence. As he told Neon magazine, for a 1998 feature on 10 movies that influenced Boogie Nights:

What’s obnoxious and so fucking brilliant about Scorsese is that he does these pretentious, insane camera moves that suddenly make sense. He’s the biggest show-off—and we don’t even see it.

Sometimes we don’t even see it in the movies he’s influenced, either.

Read more in Slate: