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Representation of Women in Gangster Films

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Representation of Women in Gangster Films The conventions of a gangster lifestyle involve violence, fast cars, rich Italian men in suits and most of all, women. The most famous gangster films are "Goodfellas", and "The Godfather" films 1, 2&3. In these films the main female characters are basically the wives, mothers and possibly sisters of the Mafia Boss. The main female actresses in these cases are Dianne Keaton playing Kay - the Mafia boss' wife, another woman playing Mama Corleone, his mother, and Talia Shire playing Connie, his sister in the three "Godfather" films, as well as Lorraine Bracco playing Karen in "Goodfellas". The three "Godfather" films were directed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1972, 1974 and 1990 respectively. The fact that this trilogy was made over a relatively large period of time means that it is more possible to highlight the changing roles of women in society. "Goodfellas" and the last "Godfather" film are modern and so the status of the women in these films is easily contrasted with the earlier "Godfather" films, as well as being rather similar to that of "The Sopranos". This is a modern American television series in which the main female character is the wife, Carmela - played by Edie Falco. Women in this genre of films have very clearly defined roles and expectations. They are meant to stay in the house, look after the children and make sure the family stays together. The family is split into two halves, the "business" side and the "blood relations" side. The women must never have anything to do with the "business" side of the family. They must be traditional and entirely faithful, while the men are allowed to see other women and have their own standards. In all three of the texts there are women who marry into the Mafia, and they all seem to be incredibly innocent and na�ve at first, but then they are greatly influenced by the lifestyle. ...read more.


Her mother is also very orthodox and screams at Michael on Karen's behalf when he comes home very late. Karen knows that she just has to adapt to Henry's lifestyle like all the other wives. Like Kay, at first she is kept separate from the "other half" of Henry's life. In "Goodfellas" it is obvious that the family is very important, Paulie emphasises this by telling Henry he ''CANNOT leave Karen - they have to keep the wives happy'') but that the gangsters also like to have the best of both worlds and so Karen is a victim of Henry's adultery. This is shown well when the camera cuts directly from a scene of Henry with another woman to a shot of wives holding their babies. When Karen finds out about this she tries to take a stand by physically putting a gun to Michael's head. This contrasts with Kay, who only stands up for herself behind her husband's back, and it also makes her different from other gangster's wives because she actually tries to stop him from seeing other women. Unfortunately, Karen, unlike Kay, is corrupted by the Mafia, and instead of separating herself from it, she gradually becomes fully involved. She becomes Henry's "partner in crime" and they have a more equal relationship, even though Henry still has a girlfriend who he is using to hide drugs in her house. (She is also a corrupted victim of the Mafia lifestyle.) She likes spending money, even though it's dirty, and seems to enjoy the drugs that are freely available - every time that she is shown on screen she is drinking, smoking or snorting! She also becomes less glamorous, her clothes and make-up become less modern and she becomes less pretty. By marrying Henry, Karen has committed herself to a life where she doesn't know what is going to happen next. She doesn't have a certain future and is slowly being corrupted. ...read more.


She is childish and innocent and is brutally murdered when she is killed by a car bomb that was meant to kill Michael. Another relatively small part is the prostitute that is murdered even though she has absolutely nothing to do with the Mafia. She is just cruelly used as a pawn in the Mafia's game. They want to set the senator up and so have her ruthlessly killed. The women in these films/TV. Series are used to show the corruption or innocence by the Mafia lifestyle. This is a running theme in the three texts and is shown exclusively in the baptism sequence in "The Godfather 2". This sequence shows men with expensive suits, gelled-back hair and gold jewellery in church in the church, there are men with expensive suits, gelled back hair and gold jewellery - these are conventional icons of gangsters. More gangsters are seen wearing black suits and hats putting guns into boxes, and delivering them in expensive cars. In this part, the camera closes up on the baby in the christening and the hitmen assembling guns and murdering people. When the murders are being carried out the baby starts to cry louder and the gunshots are very audible. The camera editing is fast, the scenes cut from close-ups of the baby straight to close-ups of guns. This shows the clear distinction between families and business and the difference between the innocence of women and children and the activities of the Mafia. This scene is effectively used to highlights the clear separation in the gangsters' lives. As time goes by the women have more power in the Mafia, and the roles change. This can be seen easily when you compare Connie at the beginning of the "Godfather Trilogy" and Carmela. The women that have been mentioned before all have their differences in the ways that they are involved in the Mafia, but the one thing they all have in common is that ultimately they all suffer as a result of this lifestyle. Salvador Stamatti Media Studies 1 ...read more.

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