Gangs of New York

Synopsis: Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a young Irish immigrant released from prison. He returns to the Five Points seeking revenge against his father's killer, William Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), a powerful anti-immigrant gang leader. He knows that revenge can only be attained by infiltrating Cutting's inner circle. Amsterdam's journey becomes a fight for personal survival and to find a place for the Irish people in 1860's New York.
Genre: Crime, Drama
Production: Miramax Films
  Nominated for 10 Oscars. Another 50 wins & 124 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
167 min


Half in shadow, a man named VALLON, dressed in black, fastens a clean

white clerical collar around his thick neck. He raises a jagged razor to

his face, RAKES it across his right cheek, drawing BLOOD. He does not


The sharp SCRAPING of the jagged blade against skin is the first SOUND we


VALLON cuts himself similarly on the left cheek, then hands the razor

ceremoniously to a BOY standing beside him. The boy, no more than twelve

years old, looks at VALLON worshipfully, keen eyes shining with fear and

excitement. He starts to wipe the razor blade on the bottom of his jacket.


No. Never. The blood stays on the blade, son.

He hands the boy a dark red velvet pouch. Very carefully, the boy, known

as AMSTERDAM, wraps the razor up, hands it back to his father.

From the shadows, VALLON now raises a long pole with a beautiful golden

crucifix mounted on the end, then holds his free hand out to his son.

Amsterdam squeezes tight.

VALLON nods toward the door. Amsterdam pulls it open. Outside is a dim

hallway. We hear SOUNDS that might be animal or human.

MUSIC begins:
a steady, driving cadence somewhere between a march and a




VALLON strides in long measured steps. Amsterdam has trouble keeping up

with him.

They are walking down a long corridor that's like a tunnel. Patches of

LIGHT stain the darkness. Sometimes Amsterdam glimpses a FACE peering out

from the gloom. Once or twice he almost stumbles over a BODY stretched

across his path.



Another room, even smaller. The only decoration is a bizarre rendering of

a Madonna and child painted on the wall.

A beefy man picks up a home-made PIKE, its iron tip sharpened to a lethal

point. He is smiling. The grin is huge, but cockeyed. It occupies only

half of his face. The grotesque, unending grin is the result of facial

paralysis, and has given him a nickname: HAPPY JACK MULRANEY.

Jack lifts the pike carefully, then takes a candle from the wall and bends

down over a wooden cage full of rabbits. He slowly moves the candle back

and forth across the cage top. Wax falls on the cage, splattering an

unlucky rabbit.

Jack thrusts the pike between the wooden bars, impaling the rabbit's body.

He pulls the pike from the cage and leaves.



Jack falls into step beside VALLON and Amsterdam. He holds the pike with

the dead rabbit high, next to VALLON's cross.


Did you bring the boy for a charm, Priest?


No, Jack. For a baptism.

Now a WOMAN joins them. She's dressed in man's clothes, her pants held up

by suspenders. She wears a set of IRON CLAWS.

MUSIC builds, growing more insistent and more ominous.

Now a figure looms before them. Over his street clothes, this WARRIOR

wears a rig of home-made armor made from fracgments of steel, lengths of

chain and bits of leather. He carries a battle-axe as lightly as if it

were a twig.


We'll send a few across the river today, Priest.

He joins the procession. Another woman, as tough as the first and half

again as large, and several more men, all armed with implements of

destruction, fall in beside him. Their faces are marked with blood, like

Vallan's, or covered with ritual markings made with paint and ink.

The group grows ever larger and more forbidding. occasionally PEOPLE dart

around them in the tunnel and scamper out of their way like animals

frightened in a burrow.



Vast and dank, like a cavern. We start CLOSE on...

... the body of a dead rat being filled with some pieces of lead.

Then a little WIDER to reveal: an eager boy, SHANG DRAPER, about the same

age as Amsterdam. He drops the last few pieces of lead into the mouth of

the rat, then sews it closed. He hefts the animal by the tail, swinging it

as he stands up.

He is near a primitive forge where a half-drunk SLACKSMITH hammers crude

weapons into shape and distributes them to OTHER MEN and WOMEN. The floor

is covered with bits of lead and steel, which Shang has been using to sew

into his rat.

Shang FOLLOWS the crowd of men and women with their weapons. And now we

see this room full. It is huge: the main room of the Old Brewery, crowded

with families huddled together for warmth and comfort, or out of fear; men

and women, together or separately, drunk or passed out. They are like zoo

animals in a pit. There are sticks of furniture jammed in corners, or,

more often, arranged at angles in the middle of the room to form tiny

enclaves where the ancient brewery machinery forms irregular boundaries.

Above Shang's head, VALLON and his gang walk across a plank bridge that

spans the room a hundred feet beneath them. Armed men and women from the

Brewery are climbing a rope ladder to join them. Shang SCURRIES up after


The men and women from the Brewery fall in behind VALLON and the others in

the lead. Shang SPOTS someone near his own age toward the front:

Amsterdam. He presses through the crowd like a hunting dog.

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Jay Cocks

John C. "Jay" Cocks, Jr. (born January 12, 1944) is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is a graduate of Kenyon College. He was a critic for Time, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone, among other magazines, before shifting to screenplay writing.[1] He is married to actress Verna Bloom. more…

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Submitted by acronimous on September 18, 2016

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