IF THERE'S ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE to a scientific argument for the existence of a collective unconscious, it's film. Never mind the jillion dollar ad campaigns and Taco Bell tie-ins; the tentacles of movies unfurl into the mind's darkest recesses, resulting in a branch of pop culture that's more recognizable, universally speaking, than any other. Just mention John Wayne, or quote Faye Dunaway's famous Mommie Dearest "Wire Hangers" speech, and chances are, people will catch your drift.

A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese through American Movies chronicles the films and directors that influenced Scorsese's own subconscious. He narrates a history of film and Hollywood, providing glimpses into celebrated directors like Wilder and Capra, as well as more obscure subjects (Giovanni Pastrone's beautiful 1914 silent Cabiria, director Ida Lupino, and Joseph H. Lewis' sordid tough-guy sagas).

And who better to present his mentors than Martin Scorsese? His own works are a study in eclecticism, always vast, and mostly great. Here, Scorsese shows the techniques he absorbed for his past films from the bloody grit of Taxi Driver to the expansive, controversial Last Temptation of Christ and 1993's delicate, if a little boring, Age of Innocence.

At one point, Scorsese describes the documentary as "an imaginary museum, and we can't enter every room." Certainly, though, Scorsese does his best to guide us through the most interesting exhibits.