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A Deep Dive Behind the Scenes of ‘The Irishman’

Of all his Italian mobster movies, The Irishman is, at the very least, Scorsese’s biggest.

On Tuesday, Criterion released a 40 minute long documentary detailing the production of Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman.” The Netflix film was an absolute juggernaut in all aspects. After years in development hell, Netflix greenlit the movie all the way back in 2014, and it cost upwards of $200 million to make.

One constant theme throughout the documentary is the production’s attention to detail throughout its monolithic 300 scenes. Every department details how extensive their research was, from tailoring hundreds of costumes specific to given years, to rebuilding a Howard Johnson’s hotel, which have been more or less nonexistent for years.

This ties back into just how big this movie was. “The Irishman” is considered to be Scorsese’s biggest movie ever. It’s definitely his longest, at nearly 3 and a half hours. The movie spans nearly half a decade, and utilizes over 100 sets in total.

One of the biggest stories surrounding “The Irishman” at the time of its release was the extensive visual effects work that went into the movie. Due to the production’s choice to use the same cast throughout the film’s stretched timeline, the cast had to be aged up or down digitally (depending on the scene), sometimes by multiple decades. Another issue was Scorsese’s and the actors’ request to not use typical performance capture suits and makeup in order to avoid hindering performances.

The result was developing a gigantic 3-camera system for every scene, using two infrared cameras to build a 3D scan of every scene on the fly for the visual effects artists to use as a framework for the aging and de-aging processes. This was a main contributor to the film’s long production time, as well as its incredibly high budget.

Overall, the care that the cast and crew put into “The Irishman” really shines through in every scene. As the end of the video discusses, the movie was really a swan song for Scorsese and the cast, who have all worked together often throughout their lengthy careers. While “The Irishman” may not be Scorsese’s last film, it’s a pretty great encapsulation of his career, and this peek behind the scenes definitely shows that off.

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