Film-Drunk Love’s latest “Film Breakdown” for the beloved Martin Scorsese classic “Goodfellas” begins with a spoiler alert. While the warning is appreciated, it’s also rendered moot by the fact that anyone with even the slightest interest in films of the past quarter century has likely seen the peerless mobster movie many more times than once. But watching a film isn’t the same as analyzing it, which is exactly what this thorough and spot-on video essay does for unarguably one of the best mafia movies ever made.
The 10-minute study opens with a brief montage of some of the film’s brutal beatings and executions, capturing the spirit and tone of its subject before proclaiming the study’s thesis: “This film is not only an excellent showcase of writing and acting; it’s also an example of great directing.” The video then examines the myriad ways in which Scorsese crafted the masterpiece.
The video singles out the use of freeze-frames, which serve to highlight important memories and lessons in aspiring mobster Henry Hill’s early life, from the excitement derived from criminal enterprise to the practical application of violence. Of course, that’s not to say that the freeze-frames are only employed while Henry is younger; they’re just less common when he is an adult. As the video very astutely points out, “we get one right after Jimmy and Tommy kill Billy Batts, a stark realization that crime wasn’t exciting anymore, and there was nothing to gain from killing him.”
Naturally, it would be impossible to study “Goodfellas” without exploring the violence captured in the film. The short makes the compelling point that, while Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) is driven to violence by his need to compensate for his diminutive stature, women are at the center of the majority of the savage acts perpetrated by Henry (Ray Liotta). Case in point: Henry’s vicious assault against Karen’s neighbor, later followed by his aggression toward her and the violent jobs he takes when his home life and marriage spiral beyond his control.
Check out the entire breakdown below for more on these and other fascinating insights into the 1990 classic “Goodfellas.”