Monday, May 30, 2011


Goodfellas is an American gangster film that came out in 1991 and was directed by Martin Scorsese. This film is based on a true story of the life and times of the American gangster Henry Hill. In the beginning of the scene you see a car and most notice that is is a pontiac which is an American model. Then you see three people in the car dressed in expensive suits. When Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta) pulls the cars over he gets out to open the trunk. Then you see another gangster Tommy Devito (played by Joe Pesci) go over and stab the guy in the trunk multiple times. As soon as they realize he is dead, the camera zooms up on Ray Liotta's Brooklyn accent and he says "As far back as I can remember, I always knew I wanted to be a gangster." All of this is representation in the beginning of the movie that it is going to be an American gangster film. The socioeconomic status is rich white males that the audience is instantly attracted to. The opening scene is shot so carefully so that the audience is instantly turned on by what is happening and wants to learn more.

When Henry is a young boy he meets his gangster family. One of the most important scenes is when a still shot remains on Jimmy Conway (played by Robert Deniro) after he meets him to portray the importance of his character. A big camera scene that is usually portrayed in most film classes is when Ray Liotta takes his girlfriend to a comedy club/dining experience. During that whole scene she is mystified at where she is going and Liotta's character is taking the lead to their destination. The camera is following the couple so you see it at a subjective standpoint. Another iconic scene is at the end of the film when Robert Dinero's character meets Henry at a restaurant. This entire scene keeps you at the edge of your seat because at this point the audience is not sure whether they are still "friends" and if someone is going to get killed. They both sit at a booth in a public place where they can be seen. The cameras viewpoint is towards their profiles to portray how the distance grew bigger over time and that Deniro's character has something important to tell him. Throughout the movie the audience realizes that Henry is not the violent type and does not kill. He is always along for the ride but it is clearly shown that he does not like killing. When his girlfriend tells about how her next door neighbor tried to seduce her, a calm rage comes over Henry. He drives her back to the house and walks across the street with a gun. The camera is following Henry's every footstep to portray that something is about to happen and lead up to suspense. When Henry approaches the neighbor he starts hitting his head with a gun, this scene directly portrays Henry's rage inside and shows that he cares for this girl (where in most violent films can be portrayed for defending her). The camera leaves it on Henry hitting him with a gun about eleven times to show the viewers how many times he hit him (portraying violence) and the gruesome scene. It can also be described as this is what happens when you "mess" with a gangster.
This film shows Henry's point of view throughout the movie because he is narrating it but as soon as he meets Karen Hill (played by Lorraine Bracco) she starts narrating at the restaurant and the viewers get a chance to see how the other side feels, meaning the women in the film. She was a different women, not the "typical" italian that Henry decided to settle down with that also portrays how he is different from his crew. At the wedding she couldn't believe how much money she was receiving as a gift and when she went to their house she was overwhelmed by the woman's not so beautiful faces, they looked worn out.
Music is portrayed throughout this film but two scenes stick out to me. One scene is when Robert Deniro's character reaches his breaking point of being annoyed by a character name Morrie. He was an ordinary guy that decided to get involved with his crew and when Jimmy didn't pay up on a scam he grew angry. There is a bar scene that is shot slow and from Deniro's point of view. He is smoking a cigarette and having a drink and then music comes on and it is a still frame on Deniro portraying that he has an idea. It shows the side that he is ready to kill and has made his decision up while the camera remains still on him

. Another scene is where it shows in slow motion from scene to scene how most gangsters are dying because eventually the good American lifestyle crashes in on them. They were being noticed by the police and a lot of gangsters had to be killed and they were shown in different lights. The audience also does not feel bad for the guys that were killed because of the camera's point of view. It is more light hearted instead of sympathizing with them. It was more of a "this is what happens in this lifestyle" rather than thinking how they ended up there.
Goodfellas is a great American gangster film and will always be recognized as a classic. Henry Hill eventually rats out on all his friends showing that he cared only about his selfishness in the end. This backfires on the viewers because it shows his transition from boyhood to adulthood. When he was younger he was in court and got out where he was met by all his gangster friends and Deniro goes up to him and tells him that he has learned the two most valuable lessons in life "Never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shot." So it comes as a surprise when the audience learns that he actually gives them up. It was a great ending to a long movie.

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