Since the last century, the City of New York has been epicenter of the entertainment industry. Its neighborhoods and the many emblematic places such as The Empire State building or the Statute of Liberty have been part of the most ambitious films. Accordingly, New York City is one of the famous metropolises around the world. Besides the attractions and places that belong to this urban jungle, its undeniable fame is due to its appearance as an arena in production films. One of my favorites movies filmed in New York City is “Carlito’s Way”.
The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King is both a wonderful film and a brilliantly written short story. There are many themes represented in each form of The Shawshank Redemption. The one major theme that interests me in both the film and the story is freedom. Freedom serves a large purpose for both the story's writer and the filmmaker. Both use similar examples to signify freedom, not only in the jail, but also in a larger context about life. There are many events and examples in both the film and the short story that signifies the theme of freedom. The one main difference is when the film uses the director’s technique to portray a feel of freedom for the inmates. The overall three issues used in this essay are all linked to the feeling of the inmates feeling the sense of freedom with the prison walls.
The only real way to truly understand a story is to understand all aspects of a story and their meanings. The same goes for movies, as they are all just stories being acted out. In Thomas Foster's book, “How to Read Literature Like a Professor”, Foster explains in detail the numerous ingredients of a story. He discusses almost everything that can be found in any given piece of literature. The devices discussed in Foster's book can be found in most movies as well, including in Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic, “Pulp Fiction”. This movie is a complicated tale that follows numerous characters involved in intertwining stories. Tarantino utilizes many devices to make “Pulp Fiction” into an excellent film. In this essay, I will demonstrate how several literary devices described in Foster's book are put to use in Tarantino’s film, “Pulp Fiction”, including quests, archetypes, food, and violence.
In the classical Western and Noir films, narrative is driven by the action of a male protagonist towards a clearly defined, relatable goal. Any lack of motivation or action on the part of the protagonist problematizes the classical association between masculinity and action. Due to inherent genre expectations, this crisis of action is equivalent to a crisis of masculinity. Because these genres are structured around male action, the crises of action and masculinity impose a crisis of genre. In the absence of traditional narrative elements and character tropes, these films can only identify as members of their genres through saturation with otherwise empty genre symbols. The equivalency between the crises of genre and masculinity frames this symbol saturation as a sort of compensatory masculine posturing.
The Classical Hollywood style, according to David Bordwell remains “bound by rules that set stringent limits on individual innovation; that telling a story is the basic formal concern.” Every element of the film works in the service of the narrative, which should be ideally comprehensible and unambiguous to the audience. The typical Hollywood film revolves around a protagonist, whose struggle to achieve a specific goal or resolve a conflict becomes the foundation for the story. André Bazin, in his “On the politique des auteurs,” argues that this particular system of filmmaking, despite all its limitations and constrictions, represented a productive force creating commercial art. From the Hollywood film derived transnational and transcultural works of art that evoked spectatorial identification with its characters and emotional investment into its narrative. The Philadelphia Story, directed by George Cukor in 1940, is one of the many works of mass-produced art evolving out of the studio system. The film revolves around Tracy Lord who, on the eve of her second wedding, must confront the return of her ex-husband, two newspaper reporters entering into her home, and her own hubris. The opening sequence of The Philadelphia Story represents a microcosm of the dynamic between the two protagonists Tracy Lord and C.K. Dexter Haven, played by Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Through the use of costume and music, the opening sequence operates as a means to aesthetically reveal narrative themes and character traits, while simultaneously setting up the disturbance that must be resolved.
‘Goodfellas’ is a film about American gangsters; we know this because of the images that are in the opening scene. The first thing we see after the opening credits is a Pontiac Grand Prix which is a popular American car (during the 70s), you cannot find one of these cars anywhere but in the U.S., and this is the first image that shows us we are watching an America gangster film. After that scene we see a black screen with the words “New York, 1970”, this time period was infamous for mobsters/gangsters. The final piece of imagery that tells us that we are watching an American gangster film is the narrator; he (Ray Liotta) has a strong, distinguished American accent. A viewers’ generic expectations of a gangster film are fulfilled by the costumes,
In any film, filmmakers use the beginning to expose the audience to its style and organization along with storyline, society, and characters of the film. The ending evokes emotions from the audience and drives home the essence of the film. Within the two films High Noon and Don’t Look Now, the parallels in the beginnings and the endings of the films exhibit purposeful framing that speak to the outcomes of the films dependent on the characters’ actions. The favorable beginning and ending of High Noon contrasts with the tragic beginning and ending of Don’t Look Now, highlighting the importance of a strong set of values, and the dangers of being consumed by your own thoughts.
Goodfellas is based on the life of Henry Hill, a member of an organized crime family of Italian descent that continues to have strong ties to Italy throughout the movie. As the movie begins, an old car drives down a highway as the bumper and New York license plates are shown. It seems as though the flickering streetlights are representative of the lights of a large city fading in the distance. Two men watch as a short man makes the observation that they need to finish killing a mutilated and bloody guy in the the trunk. Tommy, the short guy, stabs the man with a butcher knife mercilessly in a way that would make most viewers cringe. It becomes clear that this is a movie about street level gangsters in the ‘70s. The protagonist, Henry Hill begins by narrating his life as a teenager, stating that he “always wanted to be a gangster.”
In his essay The Screenplay and the State Fair, David Mamet criticizes the profit based production, of drama in Hollywood and pop-culture. He describes mainstream movies as systematic, planned, and inauthentic. He even goes so far as to claim, Hollywood movies are no longer drama, but instead are advertisements. Mamet sets out to defy the status quo of Hollywood dramas by creating organic plots that do not follow an obviously scripted, or charted path. Due to Mamet’s organic plots, the resolution of his story’s often feel unsatisfactory, and at times, disappointing because they are not what the reader wants or expects. His creations keep his readers on their toes, and frequently leaves them feeling surprised and confused. His technique however,
American cinema seems to have always had a preoccupation with crime and the criminal underworld, Goodfella’s is no exception.