The Camera and Emotion

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An author uses words, an artist may use paint, a musician an instrument, but what about a filmmaker? The filmmaker uses words, actors, music, and most importantly, the camera. When used properly the camera brings the audience along for a ride with the characters. Not all filmmakers are capable of using their camera in this way; others develop this skill over time. One such artist is Martin Scorsese. His break out film was, “Mean Streets (Scorsese, 1973),” and nearly twenty years later, he perfected the gangster film with, “Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990).” Martin Scorsese, more so than any other filmmaker, uses his camera to take the audience on a journey with the characters. While both Mean Streets and Goodfellas are amazing works of cinema, in the seventeen years between the two films, Scorsese was able to hone his visual style to a place of near perfection. In both Mean Streets and Goodfellas Scorsese is able to connect us emotionally to the characters. He does this by showing us, not reality, but the reality that the people in the film see it. In Mean Streets he has moments that connect us to the character’s emotional reality, but in Goodfellas the entire film brings us to the place that they exist emotionally. Scorsese’s films take us into another reality, that is to say, the reality of his characters. “He is unafraid to use unusual cinematic techniques to thrust us boldly into the characters’ minds and emotions,” (Thompson, & Brodwell, 2010). First, let’s take a look at Mean Streets. The film opens with a voiceover about sin and the church; Charlie, Harvey Keitel’s character, wakes up, as if from a nightmare, and looks in the mirror. Directly after this is where we begin to see into his world. Scorsese does this by a sequence of 8mm shots, made to look like home video. According to Marie Katheryn Connelly, the super 8 shots, in the opening sequence of Mean Streets, add something more than just typical exposition: “Structurally, this sequence serves the...
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