With movie studios too entranced with making movies about comic books and superheroes to make the kind of epics cinema used to excel at — The Godfather, Once Upon a Time in America — the job has instead fallen to HBO, which, with series like Band of Brothers, The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire, and now Boardwalk Empire, has become the place you go to see a mirror held up to America.
At a recent press conference, Scorsese compared the creative freedom at the studio with that enjoyed by the New Wave directors in the Sixties. “What’s happened over the past nine to 10 years, particularly at HBO, is what we had hoped for in the mid-Sixties… We’d hoped there would be this kind of freedom and also the ability to create another world and create longform characters and story. HBO is a trailblazer in this.”
Already drawing excellent reviews, Boardwalk Empire looks set to become the must-see television event of the year. Winter hopes it will get picked up for further seasons; ultimately, he hopes to get as far as the stock market crash of 1929, thus taking in the entire decade.
“They haven’t told us to take it down,” he says, looking around his giant set. “God bless HBO.”
Boardwalk Empire begins on Sky Atlantic at 9.00pm on Tuesday 1 February