Watch this famous scene from Goodfellas directed by Martin Scorsese in 1990: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJEEVtqXdK8 [Accessed: 24/02/14]. Don’t read on until you’ve answered the following questions: 

  • What does this scene tell you about the main character?
  • How does it do this? List the ‘Clues’.

Make some notes in your learning log. 

Before discussing the scene form Goodfellas, I will look at why cinema and narrative. Film is perfect for showing narrative, as it can merge many different things to provide the final result, such as lighting, props, acting, music and dialogue. All of which contributes to the narrative. In films, the narrative is built upon during the film; it can show the development of a character or a story. This differs from still photography as to fit a whole narrative into one frame is very difficult. David Campany stated that ‘still photography struggles with narrative as storytelling’. The narrative may be easier to see in a series of images, as the narrative can be developed and explained more.

This short video is an extract form the Goodfellas movie.

It starts with the main character, Harry Hill getting out of his car with his ‘date’. He has someone look after his car for him, like a valet, he also hands him some money. This shows the man has money, power and influence. He is wearing a black suit with a red tie, a woman accompanies him, and it appears to be their first date. This can be seen from their mannerism and the dialogue. Instead of waiting in line for the restaurant, they go in a different way. A man opens the door for them and Hill hands him some money. The colour scheme for this area is a dark red, which could be a symbolism of romance for the restaurant and their date, but also the violence and danger of Hill. The corridor is dark and shady, which could be a metaphor for his character. They go through the kitchen area, as they walk several people talk to Hill, so he is well known. The actual restaurant has a romantic intimate feel to it, the lights are dull and the tables are small. Hill talks to the owner of the restaurant and they seem to be fairly familiar with each other. A table is specially brought to the front of the restaurant in front of the band for them; another guest has a bottle of wine sent for them. His date then asks him what he does for a living; he states that he is in construction.

This clip tells the viewer several things about the Hill. He is a powerful and respected man here. He has money and ‘tips’ well, for their service and loyalty. He is trying to impress his date. He has an authoritative air about him. Everyone seems to know him, and their greetings seem to hold respect for Hill. The colour scheme includes reds and generally dark colours. Whilst in the restaurant this could be interpreted as romantic, it could also reflect Hill’s character, and his work. He lies to his date about what he does for a living, as everyone who knows about the films knows it is about the mob.

David Campany. Photography and Narrative: What is involved in story telling?. [Online]. <https://www.david-campbell.org/2010/11/18/photography-and-narrative/> [Accessed: 2nd August 2016].


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