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The Shots of Goodfellas - Essay Example

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Goodfellas does not glorify the gangster lifestyle like The Godfather. The framing of the short tracking shot from a three-shot to the two-shot is vital for the psychological state of mind of the audience that must be willing to accept the perhaps fictional assertion that the man through whose eyes the story will be told was not as bloodthirsty and violent as those around him. The movement away from directly including Henry in this show to bringing Tommy and Jimmy together is a distancing device that subtly creates a sense of audience participation with Henry’s character. At no point in the editing of the incredibly violent opening sequence of Goodfellas is Henry Hill ever included in the finishing off the murder of the man in the trunk. The audience has no way of knowing who this man is or what part he will play or why he was killed. For the audience can’t possibly know he was a completely innocent witness to a crime rather than a wiseguy himself. Because this is the opening scene that essentially introduces the audience to the main characters it is imperative that Henry is not only never seen taking an active role in the murder, but is seen to react to Jimmy’s nod of the head to open the trunk in the first place as Jimmy is his boss. The reaction shots of Henry responding to the brutality before him rather than taking part also serves to further intensify audience participation in part because of the murderous glee with which Tommy kills and the quick sneer that appears on Jimmy’s face before he shoots the corpse. ...Show more
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Summary

This essay "The Shots of Goodfellas" deals with the specificity of the shots in the opening scene of Goodfellas perfectly modulated to reveal the irony of the Henry Hill’s opening narration. Notably, Scorsese chose to begin the film on the night of the downfall of these characters for a reason…
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