In an iris shot a circular mask is applied to the image. The outer edges of the shot are darkened, leaving only a circular space at the center exposed. A gradually opening iris was a standard way to begin a scene, while a closing iris denoted the end of a scene or the movie.
The iris fits right in with Scorsese’s assertive directorial style. He constantly reminds the viewer who is calling (and framing) the shots. Averting your eyes is not an option. The iris shot is the ultimate tool for directing the viewer’s gaze.
Martin Scorsese is an American director, producer, screenwriter, actor, and film historian, whose career spans more than 45 years. Part of the New Hollywood wave of filmmaking, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and influential filmmakers in cinema history. In 1990, he founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation. He is a recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award for his contributions to the cinema, and has won an Academy Award, a Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival Best Director Award, Silver Lion, Grammy Award, Emmys, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and DGA Awards.
Scorsese’s body of work addresses such themes as Sicilian-American identity, Roman Catholic concepts of guilt and redemption, machismo, modern crime, and gang conflict. Many of his films are also notable for their depiction of violence and liberal use of profanity. He has directed landmark films such as the crime film Mean Streets (1973), the vigilante-drama Taxi Driver (1976), the biographical sports drama Raging Bull (1980), the black comedy The King of Comedy (1983), and the crime films Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995), all of which he collaborated on with actor and close friend Robert De Niro. Scorsese has also been noted for his collaborations with actor Leonardo DiCaprio, having directed him in five films, beginning with Gangs of New York (2002). Their latest collaboration, The Wolf of Wall Street, was released in 2013. Read more.