Hollywood legend Scorsese in stitches as President Higgins goes big on self-deprecation
President Michael D Higgins had a rapt audience in stitches yesterday afternoon with a moment of delicious self-deprecation.
As the President took to the podium to honour the legendary director Martin Scorsese with the John Ford Award, an overzealous steward placed an extra-large step at the podium.
After stepping up onto the tall wooden block, the microphone now almost navel level, the President brilliantly saved any blushes by quipping to the crowd of students: "Wasn't it Wellington who said long legs are only useful in retreat?"
Mr Scorsese was left doubled in laughter before the cheering crowd.
From there, the mutual admiration between both men was unmistakable.
At the special Irish Film and Television Academy event, the President honoured the cinematic maestro for his "unique contribution" to the industry. He said: "How timely it is to be reminded that, what art makes possible is the emancipation of our sensibilities from any acceptance of the inevitability of a weary indifference to the suffering of the world.
"For his gaze that has never been averted, it is right that Martin Scorsese be honoured."
He added in reference to the Academy: "You have chosen well."
When it was time for Mr Scorsese to take to the podium, there was visible emotion in his eyes.
He told the crowd: "I never thought that I would be receiving something like this. It's from another time and place for me."
Mr Scorsese delivered a masterclass for the students before receiving the honour. He told them that the aftermath of the Iraq War "had created thousands and thousands of Travis Bickles" who "have nothing to lose".
Bickle is the protagonist of Scorsese's 1976 Palme d'Or-winning film Taxi Driver. Bickle, played by Robert De Niro, is a Vietnam War veteran and loner living in New York City who violently lashes out at the world around him.
The last time Mr Scorsese was in Dublin, in 1998, he dined with directors Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan.
Last night, he spent the evening in The Shelbourne Hotel, dining once more with his friends from the world of Irish film.
Scorsese has been making films since the 1960s.
His catalogue of masterpieces includes Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Wolf of Wall Street and The Departed, for which he won a Best Director Oscar in 2007.