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The Age of Innocence

DFI Cinema

Martin Scorsese / Feature Narrative / United States of America / 1993 / 139 min / Colour / DCP
In English, Italian / Arabic, English subtitles
Interests: Drama, Romance, Period Piece
Rated: Parental guidance advised for viewers under the age of 15. Individuals under the age of 15 are not admitted into cinemas unless accompanied by an individual aged 18 or over.



While Europe lurches toward decadence, the upper-class society of late 19th-century New York is bound up in codes and conventions that rival those of the court of Louis XVI. Conformity is the order of the day, and to step too far outside the ordained system is to become a pariah. Within this highly regulated setting, Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of American novelist Edith Wharton’s ‘The Age of Innocence’ examines the tragic love triangle of Newland and May, a recently engaged young couple from two of New York’s finest families, and the disgraced Countess Olenska.

The film's mise-en-scène brilliantly reflects the regimented narrative context, for example through exquisitely controlled moments of symmetry (note in particular the many dining scenes) and acute attention to detail. Naturally, such rigour extends to costume; even the most subtle variations in outfit have notable impact. Note, for example, the arrival of the countess to dinner in scarlet, where she is surrounded by guests in more sombre evening wear – a sure sign of her flouting of convention. Similarly, the gauzy flounces of May’s dresses contrasts with the more serious fashion of her contemporaries, reflecting the childishness she retains throughout the story.

This brief analysis aside, the costumes in the film are simply wonderful; it is no surprise the film won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.

About the Director

Martin Scorsese came to prominence during the New Hollywood era with ‘Boxcar Bertha’ (1972), ‘Mean Streets’ (1973) and ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’ (1974). In 1976, he made the multi-award-winning ‘Taxi Driver’, generally considered one of the best films ever made. A string of critically acclaimed films followed, among them ‘Raging Bull’ (1980), ‘The King of Comedy’ (1983), ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ (1988), ‘Goodfellas’ (1990), ‘Casino’ (1995), ‘Gangs of New York’ (2002), ‘The Aviator’ (2004), ‘Hugo’ (2011) and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (2013).


Martin Scorsese
Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese, based on the novel by Edith Wharton
Barbara De Fina
Michael Ballhaus
Sales Company
Park Circus Limited
Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder

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