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The Portrayal of the Gangster Genre in American and British Cinema in 'Goodfellas' by Martin Scorcese and 'Layer Cake' by Matthew Vaughn

The Portrayal of the Gangster Genre in American and British Cinema in 'Goodfellas' by Martin Scorcese and 'Layer Cake' by Matthew Vaughn

The media has a vital role in the characterization of the gangster

genre and presents a particular image with which the audience forms

certain associations and expectations. For example, the use of

transport, clothing, language and weapons are key paradigms that are

executed to ensure that the gangster genre is presented the way one

would expect it to be. In terms of the characters and storyline,

generally gangsters are presented as wealthy, respected males with the

power to live life to the fullest through criminal means.

The way in which media representations of gangsters differ in American

and British cinema will be examined with reference to Martin

Scorcese’s 1990 film “Goodfellas” and Matthew Vaughn’s 2004 release,

“Layer Cake”. The aspects that will be looked at include the overall

storyline and the influence of the culture to which the gangsters

belong to, with reference to the commonly held stereotypes the

audience have grown to expect from this particular genre. Generally,

one expects a lot of violence and deceit which often leads to the main

character dying or managing to achieve some sort of redemption.

Overall, there are a variety of aspects covered within this particular

genre, such as themes of love, hate, friendship, betrayal, loyalty and

revenge.

The first film looked at is Goodfellas (1990) directed by Martin

Scorcese, a stylistic, hard-hitting true mobster story about three

‘wise guys’. The film is based upon the non-fictional book ‘Wise guy:

life in a mafia family’ by Nicholas ...

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...ny years now and there are a

multitude of similarities between films of this category. It is due to

the media’s provision of imagery that audience members are able to

identify gangsters and understand how they are supposed to act and

regardless of the cultural setting, the ideas remain the same to the

point where one can almost predict what will potentially happen and

when. Although film makers are able to keep the audience on their toes

and add compelling twists to their storylines it does not alter the

fact that, like most other genres, the main themes become easily

identifiable and therefore contain an element of predictability.

Bibliography

Books

‘Wise guy’: life in a mafia family, Nicholas Pileggi (1990)

Websites

www.mediaknowall.com

www.imdb.com

http://goodfellas.martin-scorsese.net/

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