Abdulkhaliq Alshaikhmubarak (AK)
“Three decades of life in the Mafia”
Director of Cinematography: Michael Ballhaus.
Film Editor: Thelma Schoonmaker.
“As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a gangster” this what Henry Hill “Ray Liotta”, who was the main character in Goodfellas, said after his partners killed someone in their car trunk with no merci. The Goodfellas’ storyline was based on a true story about Henry Hill from his early life when he was part of one of the Mafia gangs with two partners James Conway- Jimmy “Robert Di Nero” and Tommy DeVitoo “Joe Pesci”, until he became FBI informant. The movie was directed by Martin Scorsese the one who made a lot of great movies about Mafia and Italian-American in general. There are three main reasons made this movie special: The characters, the Cinematography, and finally the Mis En Scen. Every aspect of those was telling me that I’m front of a masterpiece.
“Actually I don’t know why they put Robert Di Niro in the middle of the poster! He wasn’t the main character. The whole story was telling by Henry Hill “Ray Liotta”. So, I believe that Ray Liotta should be in the middle of the poster!” this is what my friend was complaining about it at the end of the movie. For me, I found that very smart! Even if Henry Hill “Ray Liotta” was the narrative of the whole story. Even if everything was from his point of view, the audience can easily see Jimmy “Robert Di Niro” as the main character from the beginning when the movie introduced him as an important and likeable person when he walked into the gambling room and everyone gave him a warm greeting. Also, the whole movie was like a line for his character. For example at the beginning he was one of three partners. Then, when they became the number one in the drug business he started making noise as a leader and that grabbed our attention as audience. After that, at the end he became the leader when he shoveled his partners and became the only one in his passion! So, for me, this kind of movies make Robert Di Niro a Method actor.
In another hand, I believe that the scene which started by Tommy DiVito “Joe Pesc” telling jokes until he turned that around to “What do you mean I’m funny?” and the whole crazy things that happened after that, can show Joe Pesci’s career as a Character actor. It was, funny, crazy and tart scene. However, this scene would take me to the next great thing in this movie which is the Cinematography.
In the “what do you mean I’m funny?” scene wasn’t there much space between the main subject Henry Hill “Ray Liotta” and his people. Also, the same when the camera turned to Tommy DiVito “Joe Pesc” it was tight framing. However, that let us feel the jokes when see the people are laughing around them and feel how everyone is a leader who has men under his power. Also, make the audience feel how their prestige is very important to them. Another example about the great tight framing image, after Henry Hill “Ray Liotta” went out of the court when he as a teenager, the image included him with the gang members and there was little space around them which make the audience feel the love that they gave him. In general, Goodfellas has great images in many technique: high angle, close up, long duration, tight, framing, and etc. However, there was unique technique in the movie. When the wife of the commercial guy went to Henry Hill “Ray Liotta” home to ask about her husband. In that scene the camera man was like filming by shaking hands and that was fibulas way to transfer to the audience the confusing of the situation because it was midnight and Henry Hill “Ray Liotta” wasn’t know that his partners killed the commercial guy. You can spend all night to talk about how this movie has been filming and how every single scene was a masterpiece.
Finally, the Mis En Scen was another reason that improved that we are front of a masterpiece. For example, when the Henry Hill’s “Ray Liotta” wife was in girls’ party, everything in the scene was colorful. The girls were dressed colorful and bright dresses. Everything was perfect to help the audience to feel the same feeling that the wife had explained it in the scene when she was complaining how this life is unreal. Another example, when Henry Hill “Ray Liotta” went with his girlfriend, who became his wife later, to the make-up date and they walked into the restaurant from the kitchen, there was a red color everywhere to make you feel the love. Even when they were walking in the kitchen, there was in the background some workers handle red baskets. Also, another detail that explained Henry Hill “Ray Liotta” situation. When he got out from the jail, in the next time, wearing the same clothes that he was wearing when he went to the jail. I believe that detail could explaine how he became a fearful guy and how he couldn’t enjoy the small things anymore. The last thing about how this movie was great on the details. There is a scene for Jimmy “Rober Di Niro” after he became the number one in his position. He was setting in the bar and smoking slowly. This part of the scene was in slow motion effect. Every single part of the scene was full of the pleasure of being powerful.
Goodfellas is a movie that has been made for every taste. If you are a fan of crime, thriller, and action movies, so this is your movie. If you like drama or even romantic movies, this is your movie! It’s a great movie in term of how he had filmed, how he built the characters and finally how he putt all those things together. If you haven’t yet seen this Goodfellas, go now and watch it!