A Letter to Elia (2010) - Rotten Tomatoes

A Letter to Elia (2010)





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For Martin Scorsese, growing up in Little Italy, seeing On the Waterfront and East of Eden as a young man was a life-changing experience. Scorsese appears on and off camera throughout A Letter to Elia, taking us through Kazan's life and through his own as well, and through his growing realization that there was an artist behind the camera, someone "who knew me, maybe better than I knew myself." The film is about being exposed to the right movies at the right moment in your adolescent life, when you're wide open and ready to connect, to be spurred on by the work up there on the screen, and then, maybe, to chart a course toward making your own movies. Composed of clips, stills, readings from Kazan's autobiography and his speech on directing (read by Elias Koteas), a videotaped interview done late in Kazan's life, and Scorsese's commentary on and offscreen, A Letter to Elia takes a close look at the life of art and its creation - the work, the distractions, the inspirations, the complications, the intersections between art and experience. A Letter to Elia, written and directed by Scorsese and his longtime collaborator Kent Jones, is a deeply personal film, a frank portrait and self-portrait, and an equally frank acknowledgement of the closeness and the distance between artists and their art. -- (C) Official Site
Documentary , Television
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Elias Koteas
as Voice of Elia Kazan
Martin Scorsese
as Narrator

Critic Reviews for A Letter to Elia

All Critics (4)

... a first-person reflection on the films and the creator, a mix of history, biography and aesthetic appreciation...

Full Review… | December 3, 2010
Parallax View

As much, if not more about Scorsese as it is about Kazan.

Full Review… | October 4, 2010
Montreal Film Journal

Scorsese offers a stirring analysis of Kazan's artistry while also describing in heartfelt terms how these stories affected him as a nascent movie lover.

Full Review… | September 29, 2010
NYC Film Critic

A deeply personal film in which Martin Scorsese, who co-directed and co-wrote, speaks at loving length about the impact that Kazan's films had on him.

Full Review… | September 23, 2010

Audience Reviews for A Letter to Elia

I think I saw this on TCM a few years back. It is also included in The Elia Kazan Collection DVD box set. Scorsese hosts this love letter to the cinematic legacy of Kazan. Elia Kazan started in theatre as an actor and developed into a Broadway director before being called to Hollywood. Scorsese talks personally about growing up and seeing Kazan's movies with characters and locations that were familiar to fellow New Yorker Scorsese. Lots of clips from the films included in the DVD collection are shared. This doc touches upon the House UnAmerican Activities Committee hearings, but is not as much about Kazan's biography as his films influence on Scorsese.

Byron Brubaker
Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer


Martin Scorsese's PBS documentary about the great American director Elia Kazan is much like it's title suggests, it is a love letter to the work of a great auteur. Scorsese's love and passion for this man's films is apparent. I've seen more in depth documentaries on auteurs and their work, but this was more a tribute than an exhaustive biography of Kazan's life and work.

Ken Scheck
Ken Scheck

Probably one of the best dedication documentaries I have ever seen. The way Scorsese discusses Kazan's work displays his true admiration, inspiration, and love for this great director. Scorsese isn't merely a person or director discussing the significance of the director; instead, he plays the role of someone who was truly inspired by the work. That is evident in the way Scorsese talks about not just the work, but the man. If you admire Scorsese, if you admire Kazan, this is the documentary for you. Made out of pure love and admiration from a true place.

Rudy Luna
Rudy Luna

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