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Gangs of New York

Gangs of New York

Cast: Leonardo di Caprio, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Day-Lewis

Director: Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese directs Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis in his long-planned historical epic about violent times in the world's most famous city.

The film marks all-to-rare (these days) appearance for Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis.

Since receiving an Oscar for his startling portrayal of Christy Brown in the 1989 feature My Left Foot, Daniel Day-Lewis has impressed audiences and critics alike. Yet in the 16 years since the film was released, Day-Lewis has made only seven films, including The Last Of The Mohicans (1992) and In The Name Of The Father (1993).

At the time of casting for Gangs Of New York, Day-Lewis was working as a cobbler in Florence, Italy. Realising that the Irish actor was the perfect choice for the lead role as Bill The Butcher in the film, Scorcese and Leonardo DiCaprio lured Day-Lewis back to New York and convinced him to take the role in the epic film.

Before long, Day-Lewis was immersed in the role as Bill The Butcher, the nemesis of DiCaprio's character, Amsterdam Vallon. Day-Lewis' commitment to the part made him ill after he refused to wear warmer clothes that weren't available in the 19th Century.

As Gangs Of New York begins, waves of immigrants flock to 1860's New York, where corruption thrives in Manhattan's Five Points section. One of these immigrants is the young Irish American Amsterdam Vallon (DiCaprio), the orphaned son of the slain Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson). Vallon was once the leader of the Dead Rabbits gang that rallied the Irish immigrants of the Five Points.

Amsterdam arrives on the street intent on seeking revenge against the rival gang leader who killed his father, Bill the Butcher (Day-Lewis). Amsterdam works his way deep into the Butcher's inner circle while keeping the true secret of his past in the shadows.

Meanwhile, Amsterdam falls in love with the fiercely independent Jenny Everdeane (Diaz), an enigmatic pickpocket with past links to Bill the Butcher. Amsterdam's personal vendetta is subsumed in the gang warfare that erupts as he and his fellow Irishmen fight to carve a place for themselves in their newly adopted homeland.

"Ever since I was a child growing up in Lower Manhattan, I was drawn to stories of Old New York," says Scorcese, who previously worked with Day-Lewis on 1993's The Age Of Innocence. "They are the stories of the testing of America and what the young country stood for. They are the stories of our roots."

*Captions available on Teletext page 801