Martin Scorsese and The Importance of Visual Literacy

February 5, 2016


I think that one of our collective gaps in knowledge is the little understood skill of visual literacy.  We mistakenly dismiss the ability to comprehend visual images as secondary to the ability to comprehend written literature.  Truthfully, in a world saturated with visual imagery, it is more important than ever that we learn to understand what is being shown to us in the form of advertisements, films, and photographs.  Award winning director Martin Scorsese understands this perhaps more than anyone, and explains his position on the topic in a video titled Martin Scorsese on the Importance of Visual Literacy.

“One has to, I think, reach younger people at an earlier age to shape their minds in a critical way of looking at these images and what they mean, and how to interpret imagery.  And I think in a more official way than just punching up on a computer or seeing something on a commercial or something like that, I think you really need to know how ideas and emotions are expressed through visual form.”

I have taken Scorsese’s words to heart, and over the past couple years at Gould, I’ve worked tirelessly to become more visually literate.  Thankfully, in the age of the internet, these things have never easier to learn.  This week, I’ll show you some of the best visual analysis I’ve seen.  I hope that they blow your mind as much as they’ve blown mine.

The first video explores the surprising cinematic value of Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban.

The second video takes a look at my favorite painting by Edward Hopper: Nighthawks.

The final video examines the way shots in films can be framed to tell stories in interesting ways.

I’d like to end by recommending a brilliant television show that you all should see.  It is a wry, comedic drama set in the same universe as the acclaimed show Breaking Bad.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Better Call Saul:


Until next time,



2 Responses

  1. Avatar Greg Gilman says:

    Andrew, you must watch Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” if you haven’t. It’s one of those movies you need to watch at least once a year for the rest of your life.

    Also, Better Call Saul just became available on Netflix streaming as of Feb. 1!

  2. Avatar Nancy says:

    Fascinating! Thanks for the education.

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