Martin Scorsese's knowledge and love of movies is put on full display in this three-tape documentary commissioned by the British Film Institute in 1994 to mark the centenary of cinema. This maverick writer and director walks us through the different dimensions of the creative process with sections on the director as storyteller, illusionist, smuggler, and iconoclast.

Scorsese shares personal stories and includes excerpts of interviews with directors and actors. He salutes early screen pioneers including D. W. Griffith, King Vidor, Orson Welles, and Erich Von Stroheim, and ends with high praise for Stanley Kubrick. Scorsese covers the ways the five major studios handled the different genres of westerns, gangster stories, and musicals during the 1930s and 1940s. He also pays tribute to filmmakers such as Max Ophuls, Fritz Lang, and Billy Wilder who stretched the genres with their imaginative work.

Film buffs will savor Scorsese's enthusiasm for the medium and his championing of those who remained true to their vision. He concludes with a personal testimony to his belief in the spirituality in films. Hyperion has published a book tie-in to the videos: A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1998, hardcover, $40, ISBN 0-7868-6328-5).