Goodfellas is a black comedy based on crime life of 1990s. It explores the notions of family and trust, loyalty as well as the resulting outcomes of their disloyalty and betrayal. Within this movie, Scorsese examines the mob life with his course, kinetic version of Pileggi’s best-selling book, the Wiseguy, the account of a true crime life (Berardinell Para 2). The movie details Hill’s rise and collapse. Hill Henry shuns hard-luck life of his father for organized gang. Henry gets in with mob Paul, and then becomes colleagues with Jimmy Conway, and Tommy Davit (Goodfellas). Henry lives high-life with a series of mistresses, all the clothes, cars and all sorts of drugs. Nevertheless Henry’s increasingly uncontrolled crime activities result in bloodshed, violence, personal depravity, arrests, murder, violence, Federal investigation, and increasing paranoia (Berardinell Para 6).

The Goodfellas Movie Analysis

In the world of gang movies, Goodfellas stands out a classic example. Based on the “Wiseguy” novel by Pileggi, Scorsese narrates Hill Henry’s story, a street-smart child who earns his living as a popular street gang (Pileggi 53). Hill starts off gang life with low profile crimes, and ascends his ladder tills he, paradoxically becomes a Federal Bureau Investigation Informant. Scorsese demonstrate the turmoil that crime life generates within the persons who lead such lives as well as the collateral harm it causes on the individuals who are close to these people. Scorsese’ classic anecdote of mob or gang life is an astonishing, explicit glance at the depravity and viciousness of a civilization, which has been romanticized, sanitized, and glamorized in numerous other films (Goodfellas).

The movie is not moving tragically, something that makes it seem more epic.   The movie is as absorbing and compelling as any gang drama. The scrip reveals all the aspects of these actors; for instance, they are fully developed persons competent of great evils and great good. The moral uncertainty of their behavior and lifestyle is handled with a shrug (Larke-Walsh 44). The movie focuses on the ties that are created between colleagues in crime. It also shows how betrayal or disloyalty is considered the most atrocious offense imaginable among the crime compatriots. Scorsese treats the mob as a fraternity, in which everyone is a keeper of another (Pileggi 53).

Goodfellas stands out as a classic movie because of its close intimacy, originality and pragmatic.  It breathes with extra gritty veracity. The accounts of the scene-play are sourced from two components.  Firstly, the movie contains the chronological account of Hill Henry’s real life situation, and secondly, Scorsese’ own reflections and memories (Goodfellas). The movie, which spans almost three decades now, has a classic feel notwithstanding its intimate viewpoint.  The initial scenes of the movie, which details Hill Henry’s childhood as well as his admittance into crime life, portray more or less a fairytale that employs the same romanticized style embraced by “Godfather” film (Berardinell Para 4).  The major aim of this part is to form a tie between the major character innocent and the audience. While Henry grows up to become a bad man, Scorsese has tailored the initial sections of the movie to make the audience sympathize with Henry throughout.   

The Goodfellas’ epic feeling had great influence on subsequent film making. Over the years, some directors have displayed Scorsese’s skill, especially when using popular music or songs to cement and reinforce the atmosphere (Pileggi 53). The misuse of period music and songs appears like apparent effort to sell Goodfellas’ soundtrack album.  Nonetheless in the movie, Scorsese’s choice of words, such as “Gimme Shelter”, “What Is Life?” “Money Man” and myriad of others, attests to be invaluable (Antulov Para 2).

The movie starts calmly at initial scenes, but over the time blood shed prevails, especially as in the final scenes roll.  For example, large part of the violence covered in the movie is shocking, visceral and sudden. A death comes as sudden surprise, leaving the audience momentarily disoriented and stunned. The movie is unique of its kind. It does not depend on the plot uncovering to capture the audience’s attention, but the breadth and strength of the characters and anecdote do that.

There are basically two categories of movies of Mafia in nature: those that depict life with gut-wrenching lucidity, and this romanticizing life. The Goodfellas stands atop on the latter. Scorsese’s examination of gang life is more realistic and pragmatic in that Goodfellas is based on an actual story.  Using the skeleton in the book “Wiseguy” by Pileggi, Scorsese has employed facts and evidence from a notorious 80s case encompassing an instrumental informant mob in developing a bourgeoning and multilayered exploration of Henry, Paul and Conway and the civilization or culture that influence their lives (Antulov Para 3).  He portrays violence as brutal companion in the mix. Apparently, the different methods directors adopt usually lead to films that are different in tone and temperament, even when the same genre is populated.  It is an interesting examination of a lifestyle or culture that has enticed Americans in television, movies, and novels.

For character-based melodrama like Goodfellas to ascend to a level of well-crafted drama, powerful acting is instrumental (Antulov, Para2).  Goodfellas engrosses its audience to the extent that some of them feel it sanitizes and glamorizes the gang.   Surely the characters live a high life, cosseting in petty riches and giving the law enforcers the finger (Berardinell Para 4) However, Scorsese has taken care to reveal the mob’s nastiness like abusing their families, bullying café owners or consuming their own. For example, Karen and Henry are so paranoid and voracious. Scorsese have used elements of humor to help offset the countless violent scenes.

Privileges, wealth and influence of people associated with mob are sufficient for Henry to seduce Karen, who becomes his future spouse. Karen remains loyal and truthful to Henry, notwithstanding his domestic abuse, arrests, and infidelities (Antulov Para2). She even becomes his accomplice in Henry’s drug deals. Slowly the mob starts to disintegrate when Jimmy’s refuses to share the loot with other colleagues, when Tommy unimaginably blows whistle of homicidal violence, and ultimately when Henry enters into drug habit that results in his down fall (Johnston 109).

Scorsese has managed to establish a vision that is complete and effective. The world portrayed in Goodfellas is both really and interesting (Antulov Para 4). Any viewer watching this movie will, no doubt, understand why gangs choose such risk lifestyles, exchanging prosperity as well as the short-lasting glamour of a gang to poverty and tediousness of sincere citizens. Scorsese manages to take away the viewer’s moralistic barriers by demonstrating honesty revolving fabric that is the sections that portray broken homes, personal tragedies, murder, bloodshed, violence, and human depravity (Antulov Para2). The movie portrays a really life situation that Americans witnessed in the 1990s. It reveals how culture lead people to make lifestyles and choices that affect not only themselves, but also the people around them.

The use of manipulative shots, ironic soundtrack, and character’s dialogue shows how Goodfellas embodies the novel standards and norms of black comedy that will become well-known in the world of filmmaking. Truly, Scorsese has portrayed his skills of authenticity as well as a creative filmmaker. Instead of the usual single narrator, Scorsese has used two.  Scorsese shifts Henry as the original narrator to Karen before switching back to original narrator (Kolker 124). This manifold point of outlooks only prolongs the ironic span towards the characters as well as their situation. Similar ironic span comes with highly effective selection of soundtrack. Future directors are likely to adopt Scorsese’s style of soundtrack in their popular songs when it comes to portraying good and bad times (Berardinell Para 5). 


Goodfellas is considered the most influential and best film of 1990s. It depicts the American darker side of an organized crime. It has a classic feel based a true anecdote.   Goodfellas surveys how a culture influences relationships, life choices and values. Scorsese exhausts his effort to show viewers all the inherent paranoia, hypocrisy and violence of organized mob. Despite all this, Scorsese manages to keep it both funny and seductive. Scorsese’s epic tale of mob or gang life is shocking, explicit glance at the depravity and viciousness of a civilization, which has been romanticized, sanitized, and glamorized in numerous other films.

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