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How Goodfellas changed the genre of the Mob movie

that of Martin Scorsese Goodfellas essentially reimagined the mob movie as a subgenre and led to a renewed interest in the internal life of the gangsters, but what marked the acclaimed film as a different beast from the earlier, equally beloved hits? ? Since there have been movies, there have been gangster movies. The crime genre dates back to 1906, and even the real gangster John Dillinger was shot as he walked out of a movie theater showing the police drama. Manhattan melodrama.

The criminal underworld is an inherently creepy, alluring, and cinematic subject matter, which means generations of filmmakers have revisited the subject from countless perspectives. In 1973, Marlon Brando won (and refused) an Oscar for his famous trick The Godfather, a new Hollywood mafia movie from director Francis Ford Coppola. Big, lyrical and tragic, The Godfather mythologized the mafia in a way that no film had succeeded in doing before.


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The success of The Godfather and its first sequel has spawned a slew of organized crime films, many of which have attempted to replicate Coppola’s immersive and atmospheric approach to the subject. However, efforts like the explosive and horrific Brian De Palma Scarface and Ralph Bakshi’s grainy, counter-cultural animated films offered another take on the crowd, portraying them as dirty, violent, and amoral monsters. While both approaches to the subgenre enjoyed significant critical success throughout the ’70s and’ 80s, it wasn’t until the ’90s. Goodfellas that a filmmaker merged the gruesome reality of crowd life with the intimate personal drama of Coppola’s iconic trilogy.

Why Goodfellas is such a famous movie

Goodfellas, every mafia rule that Henry Hill broke

From its opening scene, Goodfellas is a self-conscious mafia film. Although based on the real life of Henry Hill, Goodfellas uses Ray Liotta’s fun and fast-paced storytelling to point out an important fact: that the film is told from the perspective of a self-aware gangster. He adopts his swashbuckling bravado to show what makes the anti-hero’s criminal life so appealing, but aside from Hill’s island myopia, Goodfellas also simultaneously depicts exactly what makes mafia work so appalling to many. Scorsese’s later efforts such as Casino dwelled on the brutality of mob life, with lengthy stretches of torture and murder. On the other hand, Goodfellas only shows fleeting moments of bloody violence but, above all, these quick clips have as much visceral impact as anything about Scorsese horror Cap Fear. This leaves viewers unable to shake off the reality that the mobsters portrayed in the film are genuinely monstrous people capable of inflicting horrific violence for profit.

How Goodfellas is Different from the Godfather Trilogy

The Godfather trilogy, like another New Hollywood hit Bonnie and Clyde, was a necessary corrective after decades of Hollywood films being judgmental towards their audiences. After the introduction of the Hays Code, Hollywood productions were forced to follow comically didactic rules that made it difficult for directors to portray morally compromised antiheroes. Freed from these creative constraints, The Godfather had room to humanize Brando’s flawed but basically decent gangster, and The Godfather II even managed to make Robert DeNiro’s transformation into mob boss a gripping and moving story rather than a finger-wagging sermon on crime and bad behavior prevention. However, by the 90s, the cinematic landscape had changed dramatically. Without limiting the violence and depravity that directors and writers were able to portray on screen, it had gradually become more common to portray the crowd as misunderstood heroes and a paper on (or even outright) eliminating reality. brutal of their work.

While Scorsese has never been interested in hammering out the obvious point that gangsters are morally flawed people, Goodfellas was one of the first films in the subgenre to introduce viewers to a charming Mafia clan that treats its members like family, lives lavishly, and is infinitely loyal to one another, while explicitly threatening, torturing and murdering anyone who finds themselves. in their path. Just like its spiritual suite, The Sopranos later portrayed the gangsters as imperfect figures capable of both degeneration and decency, The Godfather The trilogy was innovative at the time to force viewers to see even criminals as complex, rounded characters. Goodfellas, on the other hand, was just as innovative in reminding the public that while the gangsters saw their actions as justifiable, there were brutalized women, terrified townspeople, and corpses left as a result of their self-mythology, all of whom deserved may their stories be told.

Related: The Irish Character Mentioned In Goodfellas

How Goodfellas changed the genre of Mob movie

Goodfellas arrived in theaters at a time when mob film was in transition. In the early ’90s, with help from the Scorsese hit, the subgenre grew from glamorous gangsters with melodramatic outings like Once upon a time in america and The Untouchables to portray their harsher and bloodiest side in the likes of Carlito’s Way, The King of New York, and Donnie Brasco. Scorsese himself continued, with The dead, the Goodfellas– epic style Irish, and Casino, to offer more nuanced views on the minds and souls of people for whom violence was a reality. Outside of the director’s release, however, the gangster film also changed its perspective on its subjects thanks to the influence of Goodfellas. Shows such as The Sopranos, The shield, The corner, Thread, Love-hate, and Boardwalk Empire began to portray gangsters not as misunderstood heroes or unambiguous monsters, but as layered, complex characters with believable motives.

Gangsters who had a decent side were contrasted with cops who had a shady and amoral side, and the line between heroism and wickedness was blurred with each new look at the criminal world. Scorsese’s film forced viewers to consider the gruesome human cost of organized crime, but also to wonder how the phenomenon came about – and how, at the end of Goodfellas and many stories of actual crimes, the system ended up leaving perpetrators unscathed. Or The Godfather overturned the scenario of conventional Hollywood morality, making gangsters good and cops bad, Goodfellas forced viewers to confront the loopholes embedded in a system that allowed crime dynasties and corrupt cops to exist in the first place. Goodfellas made the mafia movie world a morally more complicated place where viewers could empathize with Henry Hill, see how the world had led him to where he ended up, and still recognize the evil he was capable of – a achievement that paved the way for Stringer Bell, Tony Soprano and Walter White.

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