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Ex – setting the scene

In this exercise we are asked to view a short clip from the Martin Scorsese movie, Goodfellas (1990) and comment on what it tells us about the main character and how it tells us.

Money features several times, during gratuitous tipping of people the character encounters, from having his car parked and throughout his back-door route into the night-club. The money is placed firmly in hands. It tells us the man has means, but it also tells us he buys his way in where others must wait in line. A disregard for everyday etiquette.

The character is well-known – people are keen to greet him and shake his hand, they watch him as he move through the scene (gazes directed towards him).

The man is well-dressed in a serious suit – black with a white shirt and his female companion is also well dressed and presented. Clothing shows affluence.

Once they descend the steps, they pass through a door into a long red corridor – it is a deep, almost blood-red. This could signify danger, with the body guards at various points, or passion with the two lovers kissing towards the end of the corridor. There is ambiguity that creates tension.

The couple pass through the kitchens. They are out-of-place but nobody questions them or is surprised to see them. Their abnormality is normal – it is something unsurprising. The absence of gaze suggests that what appears unusual is a regular occurrence – the character has authority to be there.

Once inside the club, the couple unthinkingly jump the queue – they are not expected or expecting to wait. The man has power. He is greeted and a table placed and set up right in front of the stage for him. The guests nearby, welcome him and shake his hand, another sends over a bottle of wine (signifying a gift). There is red light also inside the club, continuing the ambiguity between menace and passion – the deference demonstration of power on one hand, and the beautiful woman at the man’s arm on the other.


www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJEEVtqXdK8 [accessed 23.4.16]


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