GoodFella's A Classic: Martin Scorsese's Techniques to Expose Public Misconceptions

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Born on November 17, 1942 in Queens, New York, Martin Scorsese is one of the most eminent and momentous directors in the history of film. He graduated from NYU as a film major in 1964. (Imbd). He has also admitted to being deeply influenced by the “French New Wave” in Cinema, with likes of Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini as just some of his favorite directors. His films vary from themes of the Italian American in New York to crime and violence. Just a few of Scorsese awards comprise of the academy award for best director, the order of merit of the Italian Republic, and three of his films are in AFI’s top 100 movies of all-time. ( N.Y. Times). Some of his most widely acclaimed works are Goodfella’s (1990), Casino (1995), Raging Bull (1980), and The Departed (2006). Goodfella’s, based on the book Wiseguy 1 is about an Irish-Italian named Henry Hill who was born in Brooklyn, New York during the height of organized crime.

The film starts off at night, with a speeding car switching lanes on the high. The director Martin Scorsese is trying to give the viewer a feeling of mystery, suspicion, and wonder. There is no background music and no dialogue, and this is to let the viewer make inferences as to why the car is going so fast and who is driving it. Then 1970, New York is shown to let the audience know where the plot is taking place. Suddenly three characters are shown without any introduction, with dim lighting and the camera focusing in on their faces. Scorsese is attempting to get the attention of the viewer to these three characters and their dialogue. They hear sounds like a tire pop and pull into the woods, while they are out of the car noises are coming from the trunk and the characters are looking at each other with disbelief. In this part of the scene the suspense is building while at the same time the camera is slowly zooming into the trunk of the car and more suspense and speculation. The scene ends with the trunk being opened by one of the characters, a bloody person is found in their and one of the characters stabs the guy while the other shoots him. Immediately you begin to wonder who is this person, and why did they kill this man. In this begging scene Scorsese grasps the viewers’ attention immediately by using this dark setting and murder to instill conjecture in the mind of the spectators.

The next scene begins with dialogue from the main character Henry Hill, saying “every since I could remember I always wanted to be a gangster”. This is powerful to the viewer because it gives you insight as to whose point of view the film will be in, who it will be about, and to what kind of a person the film is revolved around. The camera is zoomed into the face of the main character as a young adolescent, and is slowly zooming out while the character is giving insight into his thoughts as a kid. Scorsese highlights the importance of the main character through this technique of the camera focusing on him. After the setting of the movie is introduced as the camera moves from left to right showing the neighborhood in East Brooklyn, New York that movie will take place in. In the scene the character is shown from his window with dim lit lighting, gazing with admiration and yearning at the mobster at the cab stand. Two themes are introduced at this part of the scene, one is the theme of the Italian-American identity which is shown by Italian crime family and Henry’s admiration for them, and the other is the theme of disassociation with ones family. The second theme is revealed through Henrys dialogue [2]and gaze saying that he wants to be a part of them, and not like the other people in his community who he felt were “nobody’s”. Stephen Pizzello 2 , a journalist for American Cinematographer Magazine, who has a similar opinion of this scene wrote in his article, “In this close up of young Henry Hill, he can be seen looking down on the local mob family with admiration and desire in his eyes (Pizzello).”...
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