The opulent casinos that envelop the city of Las Vegas are a wonder to behold. With neon lights and flashing slot machines, they are a visual delight that draw tourists from around the world. But behind the glitz and glamour, these institutions are often plagued with corruption, greed, and violence. In Casino, Sharon Stone and Robert De Niro portray two of Vegas’ top mobster bosses. While Ace is a smart operator who runs one of the Strip’s best casinos, Nicky is a loose cannon who lets his anger govern most of his decisions.
The casinos themselves are designed to create a sense of denial about the real world outside their doors. They don’t have clocks inside, and their interior lighting is set to mimic the light of day rather than night. This trickery is intended to make you lose track of time and keep you gambling longer. And as a bonus, many casinos will even offer free spectacular entertainment and luxurious accommodations for their bigger bettors.
With a film like Casino, Scorsese was able to take a more raw and honest look at the city of Las Vegas than other movies had done before it. He stripped away the slick veneer of partying and weekend getaways, and he showed the city’s roots in organized crime. He also showed us the rot that eats away at the souls of its inhabitants. It was a brave gamble that paid off well.