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How does mise-en-scene and cinematography construct meaning and involve the audience in the chosen sequence from Goodfellas?

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Alex Bowers Goodfellas Coursework How does mise-en-scene and cinematography construct meaning and involve the audience in the chosen sequence from Goodfellas? The sequence that I am studying follows the daily tasks of Henry under the influence of drugs and paranoia. Throughout the scene, Martin Scorsese (Director) uses effective cinematography to portray the time period in which the events happen; from about 06:55am until about 22:00pm in a matter of minutes. Due to this, there are many close-ups with short durations to give a rushed/chaotic impression so that the audience has much to intake before moving on. This is also reinforced by the mise-en-scene which is jam packed full of eye-candy so that the audience can still follow the story outline, regardless of the confusion. The opening shot is a close-up on Henry snorting a line of cocaine next to the barrel of a revolver. The two props chosen here represent the theme for the chosen sequence, Henry's lifestyle. The fact that he is snorting cocaine so early in the morning could also metaphorically be showing the audience that he is not under full control of his actions, possibly needing some extra help to get him through the day ahead of him. The once snorted, the camera follows his hand as he takes the revolver from the table and places it in a brown paper bag containing other assorted pistols. ...read more.


At this point Henry nearly crashes into the car in front by not paying attention to the road. POV shots of the drivers seat position the audience in the car and feel Henrys emotions through short, sharp close-ups of him panicking. To our relief, Henry is given a brief break from his routine when he reaches the hospital to pick up his brother. This is the first link that splits the gang lifestyle from his quality family time. The camera is panned out in a single shot of Henry's motion and is edited by a series of quick shots. The fact that the doctor helps him by giving him valium adds a slight sense of security on the audiences behalf. However, on his journey home, the helicopter re-appears along with his paranoia ad in enhanced by more POV shots. Zooming in on the helicopter seems to construct he relationship between Henry's activities and the law. The audience is involved as if they are in the car being watched by a grater presence in the sky. The narration in the next scene is looking back, but when things are rushed he still sounds rushed as he lists his cooking instructions. The camera moves around the room to display the activity that is happening in the kitchen and create a demanding environment. Henry is filmed mid-shot wearing a vest and an apron to show that he is getting his hands dirty even within his family routine. ...read more.


Now the audience experiences a feeling of relief as a load has been taken off their minds, the meal was a success. This simplistic meal shot shows the emphasis of the family coming together. When Henry goes for his after meal smoke he is approached by Louis who wants to get her "lucky" hat from home. Henry is viewed from an O/S 2-s to highlight his expression towards the question, which is disbelief. The heavy eye shadow used in this shot reminds viewers of how tired Henry now is. They both enter the car and as they pull out of the driveway, BANG! COPS! The next thing we see is a police officer aiming a gun at Henry from a low-angle 2-shot which portrays the hierarchy of the two. A handheld camera effect is used in the next shot as Henrys wife attempts to dispose of the drugs. This way the audience gets to see her unexpected reaction to the police as well as her on the spot thinking. The aftermath focuses on Henry in a world by his own. The drug/cooking equipment that Henry used to mix his drugs is brought in which shows once more his two contrasting lifestyles, the family man and the gangster. Overall, I think that this scene is extremely well done. Throughout there are many cinematography effects used to create he frantic emotion and narrative of the piece. Most shots are all in one camera movement to concise the timescale and allow the audience to follow the motion. ...read more.

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