Hailed as one of the greatest mafia movies of all time, Goodfellas by Martin Scorsese brings us, in a first person narrative, the real life story of Henry Hill.
The film hits us from the beginning as we’re introduced to a mob-hit scene, mid way through, with little explanation as to it’s meaning cause or consequence. Then in classic Goodfellas fashion, we’re taken back to Henry’s childhood as he reminisces on life growing up in New York
“To me, being a gangster was better than being the president of the United States… It meant being someone in a neighborhood full of nobodies…”
This is the beauty of Goodfellas in contrast to such classics as the Godfather series, Scarface or Casino, we are met with the gritty harsh reality of mob life but we’re also immersed into the day-to-day reality of “The Family”. Whether it’s being applauded and celebrated for staying silent in court, or socialising and vacationing with only the same circle of friends, to cleaning up each others mess. Even prison life is depicted as a homing ground for mafia ‘goodfellas’.
The movie from start to ends covers many of the main events in Henry Hills’ life including his childhood, his early days in the mafia, through to the Lufthansa Heist and his drug dealings from prison that lead to his eventual demise, then finally his disappearance into the witness protection program.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, who himself grew up in Queens, New York just out side of Little Italy, witnessed much of America’s post-war mob related street life from the outside, which probably explains some of the magic behind this film.
With regards the movies soundtracks, it’s worth mentioning, true to contemporary style only music that could have been heard at the time was played at any point during the movie. Sometimes, tracks are played mid dialogue to explain a part of the narrative, at other times music is played to comfort the family scenes.
The nature in which the story ends leaves us with a poignant lesson (and feeling), that in the end, life karma does catch up with us. Despite growing up and becoming an integral part of New York mafia life, Henry goes against everything he has learnt and knows by turning evidence against his mob bosses in court and taking a witness protection deal. The biggest loss in his eyes, is the loss of the lifestyle.
I haven’t touched once yet on the outstanding cast, which includes names such as Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci, who true to form bring us some of the most memorable scenes in cinema history. There is just no escaping the power these three actors bring to the stage.
I will go ahead and give this one a 4.5/5 rating. Everything from the screen casting, through to the narrative, soundtracks and directing are spot on. It would have benefited the film to delve deeper into the prison life of Henry Hill, or to explain a little further how he was able to operate such a successful drug business from behind bars. It’s also great that the film did not end on a bang, but rather a whimper, in the life of Henry Hill, as this is exactly what happened in reality. Furthermore, it offers us something to think about in terms of the illusionary glamour a crime-riddled lifestyle will bring.
Leave your comments about the review and what you thought of the movie in the forums