For whatever reason it’s only just hit me that Martin Scorsese‘s Letter to Elia, a profoundly personal exploration of not only Elia Kazan‘s life and career but the influence his films have had upon Scorsese almost his entire life, is playing for free on pbs.org. If you haven’t seen it and you regard yourself as any kind of Movie Catholic, you must watch it as soon as you can. Who knows? Maybe they’ll take it down tomorrow or next week.
I wrote the following on 9.22.10 after catching the doc at a NY Film Festival press screening: “Letter to Elia is a delicate and beautiful little poem. It’s a personal tribute to a director who made four films — On The Waterfront, East of Eden, Wild River and America America — that went right into Scorsese’s young bloodstream and swirled around inside for decades after.
“Scorcese came to regard Kazan as a father figure, he says in the doc. And you understand why. Letter to Elia is a deeply touching film because it’s so close to the emotional bone. The sections that take you through the extra-affecting portions of Waterfront and Eden got me and held me like a great sermon. It’s like a church service, this film. It’s pure religion.”