You get a sense of Howard Hughes being Icarus with the waxed wings…He’s gotta fly out of the labyrinth. But he never could, because the labyrinth was himself.
— Martin Scorsese
That combination of internal struggle and grandiose mythmaking gets at the heart of what makes The Aviator as powerful as it is. It represents the union of Scorsese’s two conflicting artistic urges: to expand outward into a recreation of the panoramic epics of his youth and to contract inward into an intimate study of the individual human mind. Think of it as a hundred-million-dollar Taxi Driver.