The Making of Goodfellas

It was so exhilarating talking with somebody who is ten times more passionate than you are, says Ray Liotta. Joe Pesci follows, That’s why he’s so great. He enjoys it. He doesn’t put a cap on his own, and he doesn’t put a cap on yours. When passion is present, it can’t help but spread, and Martin Scorsese is known to be truly passionate about films and filmmaking. When working with the film director, Robert De Niro admits that this sense of passion leads to a good time on set: [T]hat’s what makes it a joyous experience as supposed to a job.

In this window into the making of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, we learn about the many facets behind the production of the great film. The actors of the celebrated mob story explain how Scorsese works with his performers, insisting that his actors behave like their characters versus acting like them and that as performers they are also collaborators in the story. This shows the importance of being open to ideas as a director, who in many ways becomes a filter in the production of a film.

Other aspects behind the making of Goodfellas are explored in depth. An important one is finding the “hook” by which to engage the audience. Instead of portraying the “rise and fall” story in a traditional manner, Scorsese and co-writer Nicholas Pileggi chose to begin the film with the middle part of the story. We first see the assassination of Billy Batts, where we freeze frame on Henry Hill, the main character played by Ray Liotta. This obviously leaves a very specific feeling and mood with the viewer, the “hook” that leads to wanting more from what promises to be a thrilling gangster film.

Goodfellas will remain a timeless film. But what makes it so? One may suggest the personal experience we get from the film, as if we ourselves are entering the world of mobsters. Martin Scorsese claims this to have been a point of interest: I was interested in the minutiae of how to live as a wise guy. I wanted to get into the frame of mind of the guy who works like that everyday. Scorsese takes on the romantic image of the mafia and shows it for what it truly is, making his way towards honesty via his detailed approach to filmmaking. Focusing on such a great film, The Making of Goodfellas is worth every second of its 30 minute length. Watch it and enjoy!

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