Religion is a major element of Martin Scorsese’s life and his work. His characters frequently grapple with spiritual issues—that is, when more pressing earthly concerns aren’t getting in their way. One hallmark of Scorsese’s career, going all the way back to his debut feature Who’s That Knocking On My Door? from 1967, is the use of what’s been deemed the “God’s eye view” shot, in which the director places the camera high above the actors’ heads. Jorge Luengo Ruiz captures these moments in an elegant, career-spanning video essay called, simply enough, “Martin Scorsese // God’s Point Of View.” Here, over the course of six minutes, are all those beautiful overhead shots from Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Color Of Money, Gangs Of New York, and more, accompanied by a lovely passage from Max Richter’s haunting Shutter Island score.
“Is God watching in all Marty’s films?” Ruiz asks. Honestly, this supercut gives the impression that there is indeed a supreme being gazing down upon the characters, no matter what they’re doing or where they are. God sees them when they’re being gunned down, crucified, and blown up. (That kind of stuff happens frequently here.) He sees them when they’re having sex. (That, too, so the video gets a little NSFW.) He even watches when they’re playing pool.
The overhead shots aren’t necessarily Scorsese’s way of “looking down” on his characters so he can judge them from a superior position. The feeling, instead, is that the characters are never truly alone, never totally abandoned. Alienated cabbie Travis Bickle calls himself “God’s lonely man,” and yet his movie probably contains more godly POV shots than any other title in Scorsese’s catalog. God is watching, all right, but whether he chooses to make his presence felt is debatable.