One of the most raw, real, and actual depictions of the American Mob can be found in the movie
Goodfellas. What makes the movie so authentic is the how director Martin Scorsese chooses to film it. Editing choices and style give viewers an inside look at how the mob operated in very recent American history. Goodfellas chronicles the life of Henry Hill, a young man in a New York City neighborhood in the 1950’s. From an early age, Hill was involved with the Italian mob. The film delves deep into his life of crime, royalty, and violence with careful editing techniques such as; continuous shots, invisible editing, and ellipses.
The first editing technique I will focus on is the ellipses. An ellipses is an abridgement in time implied by editing. Scorsese uses this technique when the star of the movie, Henry Hill, evolves from a teenager getting in trouble to a full out mobster. Henry is a young, and relatively innocent boy getting applauded by twenty mobsters for “getting pinched” for the first time. The next shot is of Henry as a twenty-one year-old completely involved in the mob lifestyle. This editing technique fast-forwards years of Henry’s life to focus on a different time in his life. By skipping certain parts of his life, the film has more time to focus on the more critical points.
Another simple, but effective editing technique used in Goodfellas is single, continuous shots. These long lasting shots take the audience deep into the life of a mobster by gaining our focus and following the actors every step. When Henry is trying to impress a girl, he takes an unorthodox route into a restaurant. As the couple bypasses a long line and goes down a flight of steps through a kitchen, the camera follows. There is no break in the shot; not until the Henry and his girlfriend are seated in the front row of show, comfortable and catered for. This long, continuous shot shows how much the mob was accommodated for wherever they went. The camera following Henry and his girlfriend provides a very real look at his life, and the luxuries that come with it. The luxury of his home is also illustrated with a continuous shot later in the movie. Business is the mob is good, and Henry decorates his house his extravagantly. The shot of his house begins by showing an elegant couch, then panning towards a remote controlled stone wall that opens and gives way to a TV. The continuous shot makes viewers feel in the moment and on the set.
The editing techniques in Goodfellas were not fancy in my opinion. They were simple, but definitely worked for the message of the movie. The film was an actual depiction of the American mob, and careful shooting helped make it a success.