Or how about the scene’s most telling shot (which is featured at the beginning of this post), in which a crowd of senior citizens slowly stroll into a casino lobby, lit harshly and brilliantly by Robert Richardson’s overexposed white light. No amount of dialogue can speak as profoundly as that image does. With it, Scorsese is making it clear that the real players have gone, and the tourists have arrived for good.
Part of the allure of Casino is that it depicts one of the world’s most famous cities in a way few people have seen. I believe much of what is in Casino actually happened. Probably not word for word or crime for crime, but variations of Ace Rothstein and Nicky Santoro’s actions are inarguably accurate.
Here’s my point: I was 14 years old the first time I went to Vegas. I loved it. All of it. The next time I visited Sin City was on my 21st birthday. I loved it equally, but for entirely different reasons. Two weeks ago, I spent two insanely fun, somewhat hazy days in Vegas. And guess what? I loved it still, again, for very different reasons.
I’ll always love Vegas, because it will always offer something for me, no matter my age. But do I wonder what it was like back then? Back when dealers knew your name, what you drank, and what you played? Back when, if you ordered room service, it got there before Thursday? Back when the thugs owned the town and The Strip didn’t look like Disneyland?
You’re goddamn right I do.