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Once Upon A Time in America

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Introduction

Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time in America, which is an epic poem of violence and greed, is also a drama about the rise and fall of Jewish-American gangsters in New York at the beginning of the century through the 1960's. The movie tells the story of five decades in the lives of four gangsters from New York City - childhood friends who are merciless criminals almost from the first, but who have a special bond of loyalty to each other. When one of them breaks that bond, or thinks he does, he is haunted by guilt until late in his life, when he discovers that he was not the betrayer but the betrayed. It's an astounding tale of friendship through a lifestyle of crime, betrayal, lust, and greed that spans over half a century. ...read more.

Middle

It is the friendship between Noodles and his long-time associate Max. Companionship is a key element represented in this movie, and it is shown as a binding and unbending human connection which survives all manner of torment and deception. Ultimately Noodles and Max will fall out and each will betray the other in one way or another but their friendship and the kinship on which it was founded remains intact. In the film's penultimate sequence the two elderly friends come together and discuss, in veiled terms, the bond they once shared and how it now ties them together despite the impossible predicament they are now in. This movie is also a good example of functional analysis. Leone strategically employs the gangster genre so as to undercut its usual concerns. ...read more.

Conclusion

The narrative plays out in three sections - 1921, 1933 and 1968 - and explores the relationships Noodles cultivates with various people and importantly examines the relationship he destroys with his childhood love Deborah. Noodles seems to believe he has a right to Deborah's love but almost every action he takes or movement he makes blocks his opportunity to ensure his dream will be realized. As Noodles faces his past, there is not much left for him but a series of lost memories. In conclusion, the film teaches us that our characters are nothing more than a bunch of common thugs, pretty much the usual conclusion anyone would have after seeing a film about organized crime. This movie is a ddetailed investigation of a world of big-time aspirants with small-time capabilities. ...read more.

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