Orsitto’s View of Scorsese’ Goodfellas
Goodfellas film is characterized by various scenes of crimes and criminals. Over 70 years ago, the cinematography has been obsessed with criminality with a constant festering presence of violence. Orsitto explains that while the earlier genres of crime films focused on structure of good versus bad and the transference of good, Martin Scorsese’s film has scenes that are less visually brutal. Brutality only arises through constant underlying pressure of violence. The film has smooth camera work and bright colors which makes it visually appealing. Orsitto states that Scorsese represents the mob more realistically as he focuses on costumes, music, and finer details of the lifestyle of the gangsters. According to Orsitto’s article, Scorsese’s blending of stylistic storytelling and realistic elements are what differentiate it from the normal mafia film. He states that Scorsese has shown transition from old to new values which depict transformation in the Weltanschauung of the Modern Mafioso.
According to the article, Scorsese chose to adopt unorthodox and original approach which combines formalistic storytelling with realistic content, and this has made the film different from other gangster films. Goodfellas has created demarcations on the classic American gangster films by incorporating innovative content such as the lives of the gangster at ground level, and this avoids the commonness in other crime films. The film also involves contemporary parody elements. The style and approach of Scorsese deviate from those of other film producers. Even though it is operatic, it is down and dirty at the end with highly frequent jump cuts of Henry as he portrayed high moral decay and depravity.
One of the aspects of the film that makes it unique is the detailed attention to costumes and songs and being personally involved in the screenplay. The producer evokes the daily lives of a few wise young men. In the storyline of the film, Scorsese has involved numerous forms of expressive stylizations such as voiceover. Contrary to how it has been used earlier, in Goodfellas, it plays a totally new and crucial role. Scorsese has incorporated a series of small changes in the technique to give the film a narrative coherence and also create a sense of closeness between the narrator and the audience (Robert 20).
The statement by McBride that empathy and not sympathy is required as the film will illustrates scenes in the underworld confirms the novelty of such an approach (Orsitto 3). The film has also been used to enable the audience to explore underworld with elimination of conventional blinders. The forbidden world is presented subjectively so that the audience would feel a sense of belonging. Using the old tricks of Dante, Scorsese makes the audience experience the fact that they can identify with the predicament of a character like Henry who is lured with money and power into joining gangsters. Even though the story does not touch the lives of the audience, the director draws them into feeling empathy for Henry.
Scorsese has also used elements such as locations of major scenes and titles with dates, which are characteristic of documentary tradition. These elements have enabled Scorsese to achieve his quest for realism in the film, and this gives the work an anthropological view of the mob as he had intended. It is very amazing how Scorsese makes violence and mob behavior appear normal. The director explains that the film was intended to preserve the documentary touch. Scorsese’s use of literary is different from other classic films since he applies it as though the film was a documentary. Furthermore, Henry and the wife work together in giving the narration in the film which is not common in other ordinary gangster films. Even though the films fails to achieve the plurality of perspective as expected in a documentary, the double narration gives it a dual prospect. The intimacy that comes from the dual narration between Henry and his wife adds to the realism of the film as the characters are portrayed as behaving rather than acting. The first encounter with Henry paints a picture of an accomplice of crime without direct involvement in the physical violence.
Another aspect of Goodfellas that makes it unique is the mythologizing the gangsters. For instance, Henry’s description of the young Jimmy Conway as a man rooted in the criminal environment. Secondly, Tommy is depicted as cruel and shooting at every person. Watching the film makes the audience identify every aspect of it. The film can be described as claustrophobic in that the narration is led by someone who believes that the gangster life is correct. By making the actions and the lives of criminals look ordinary and normal that any common person can understand, Scorsese declares the transforming power of cinema. In the entire file, mob behavior is justified, and the audience who has never had an experience with gangs is made to feel like one. Scorsese makes the audience feel the life of the gang even with depravity and decadence it brings in the society.
For instance, in the scene where Karen is determined to punish Henry for infidelity, Karen takes Henry’s gun and deconstructs it in three successive shots. However, she is empowered by Henry who in turn points the gun at her after throwing her down on the floor. This scene is similar to the act of Tommy shooting the audience. Scorsese uses the two incidents to produce the contemporary pastiche and constant return of disorder. The director makes it obvious that criminal life is able to lure even the most innocent of the people.
The storyline of Henry’s life, namely when he becomes lured into criminal life and after a while, it becomes normal to him, and he does not deem it as a crime, shows us the transformation of the Mafioso’s ideology and lifestyle since they can identify with the market forces. In other words, Orsitto states through Henry that it is possible to see a new crop of Mafia entrepreneurs who approve capitalist values. Accordingly, they regard power and profit as the goal in life and not a means of satisfying material needs. The article asserts that there is a great difference in this new type of Mafioso and the old man of honor (Belton 12).
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The clash between the old and the new values is seen in Tommy’s relationship, work and family. Tommy is not afraid of violating the domestic space with his gang mentality. He boldly borrows the mother’s kitchen knife to go and finish the killing. The new Mafioso attitude is filled with playfulness and plain satirical irony. The film Goodfellas depicts a new crop of mafias that are driven by capitalism. The mafia’s lives are filled with anger and uncertainty. They have entered a phase in which everything about them is full of persecution, pessimism, and fatalism. This is clearly depicted in the occurrences in Henry’s life and the last shots of the films where the protagonist verifies his ability to base his conduct on self-gratifying impulse. This method of the film shows the expansion into the world of Mafia step by step. The characters are introduced casually and later developed to give the story the transformative effect. Scorsese has used popular music to show the transition from Henry’s early days selling stolen cigarettes to the latter days defying the Paul Cicero’s order and selling and abusing cocaine.. The drastic change in Henry’s life shows the radical transformation in the behavior of the modern Mafioso.