Mean Places Goodfellas Film Analysis

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In 1990, after a decade of “mostly mixed results” both critically and commercially, Scorsese made what is said to be “his most confident and fully realized film since Raging Bull.” On the film itself, Goodfellas depicts three gangsters and their obsessive pursuit of the American Dream, how everything eventually turns sour and their goal to attain both economic and social success ultimately devours them. On the making of the film Scorsese was clearly drawn to the documentary aspects of the book - something he had tried to depict in Mean Streets. And like with that film, Scorsese was drawn to a grittier and more realistic view of the gangster life. This film would be the first screenplay that Scorsese had put his name on since Mean Streets…show more content…
The only rule that Scorsese adhered to was to only use music that could have been heard at that time period. Musical cues were used to the let the audience know which decade the action is taking place: “doo-wop for the 1950s, girl group pop music for the 1960s and rock and roll for the 1970s.” He also used music to give the audience an idea of some of the character’s internal angst and dysfunction. For example, in a scene where Jimmy is sitting at the counter in a bar, the camera slowly moves in on him as the violent, electric opening of “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream plays over the soundtrack. This coupled with the cold, amoral look on De Niro’s face indicates to the audience that there is some act of violence that is going to follow. Scorsese successfully uses the music and the soundtrack to foreshadow events as well as underscore the subjects of violence, dysfunction and adversity within the…show more content…
They go down into the club’s basement, skipping the queue and “at which point the audience is taken through the club’s chaotic kitchen and hallways.” This unbroken shot, which lasts 184 seconds , is a way to show how the whole world seems to unfold effortlessly before young Henry Hill. The cinematographer, Michael Ballhaus almost never allows the camera to be still; it is always moving, if only a little, “and a moving camera makes us not passive observers but active voyeurs.” Scorsese and Ballhaus manage to successfully, envelop the audience along Hill’s pursuit of success throughout the film. Making the subject of violence’s drumbeat under every scene all the more poignant and successfully draws us to the dysfunction that is at the centre of this group of gangsters. At the end, in a frantic sequence concentrated on a single day, the style becomes hurried and choppy as Hill races frantically around the neighbourhood on family and criminal missions while a helicopter always seems to hover overhead. This frantic style of cinematography further echoes the speed at which Hill’s downfall is inevitably approaching. For just like in Mean Streets and Raging Bull, the main protagonist finds that at the end of all the adversity he has faced, all the violence he has been involved in and along with his inherent dysfunction, the pursuit of

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