The famous American filmmaker, Martin Scorsese spent his childhood obsessing over missionaries and gangsters. These two themes remain dominant even in his films.
He is the man behind the autobiographical, Who's That Knocking at My Door (1968) and the feature film Boxcar Bertha (1972). Mean Streets marks the beginning of the long collaboration between Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese.
Mean Streets showcases a band of thugs who seek to make their way into the world of the Mafia. The protagonists are Charlie (Harvey Keitel),a thoughtful, calm man, whose uncle was a mobster and Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro), a fighter who is riddled with debt. The film portrays contrasting images of the two dominant aspects of New York (at the time), religion and the Mafia.
The final scene is the culmination of failed actions.
Even with a modest budget, Scorsese manages to create a powerful atmosphere, interesting camera effects and play a great game among the characters of the film. It depicts a world he knows well, this gives it an authenticity.
In this paper we analyze the film, Mean Streets. First, we will study the themes that have been highlighted in the film, after this we will study the characters and move on to studying the characteristics that highlight the aspects of the mafia. In the end we will analyze some of the representative sequences of the film.
The themes in the film:
We need some time to immerse ourselves in Mean Streets and it is necessary to take into account the different films from Little Italy to understand this murky environment, this world that is unknown to us. This world of a gang of thugs who live in a hell that is created by various tragedies.
The film has several key scenes that are visually stunning such as the second scene in which Jonny Boy appears, is when he enters the bar to the music of "Jumping Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones. Scorsese's prowess with the camera is obvious in this scene. The red bar could connote hell or be a warning of the blood that is going to be spilled.
This scene also has an element of seduction, or rather debauchery as the place is full of barely dressed women.
Music is a fundamental element of the film, besides the Rolling Stones and the Ronettes , the film features traditional Italian music. These two genres also present a contrast. Rock music connotes a certain violence or recklessness.
[...] Mean Streets inevitably traces the spiritual journey of the initiation of its protagonist Charlie, sending us hurtling towards the apocalyptic final scene where the symbol of fire will give way to that of purifying water from the street.Throughout the film, the visual rhythm as well as the musical contribution help maintain a paroxysmal plane. Indeed, the sacrificial ritual which ensures the passage of the character from damnation to the sanctity, the subject of this work of Scorsese comes shining through. [...]
[...] The themes highlighted We need some time to immerse ourselves in Mean Streets, and it is necessary to take into account the different films from Little Italy to understand this medium, this universe that is unknown to us, a band of thugs who lives a hellish existence due to various tragedies that arise from the recklessness of Johnny Boy and the inexperience of his friends.This is the portrait of a youth who finds himself in world marked by its violence and unpredictability, a kind of American dream gone sour, far from what he had originally envisaged it to be. [...]
[...] In Mean Streets, they are absolutely not respected, there is overwhelming machismo, especially with Johnny Boy who sees women only as a means of amusement.Charlie talks to Teresa with no respect, it is a quality which is prevalent in the mafia. This idea is reinforced by the beautiful cars that Charlie and his cronies drive around for the sake of appearances. They find themselves at the crossroads of the mafia world; they have not yet made it big because they are yet to earn the respect of the old timers. [...]
[...] 68-69: "In Mean Streets, the scene of drunkenness, Harvey was wearing a harness under his jacket for the Arriflex camera. When Harvey fell on the floor, the camera continued shooting providing some striking visuals - it was just something hacked, nothing very complicated." There is a sense of community and family in this movie. Much as it is part of reel life, De Niro and Keitel have always been considered family by Scorsese, he considers it vital to portray the insidious and strong family bonds that characterize the notorious Little Italy.So the atmosphere is clearly transcribed in the film, in which the characters are welded, they are part of a group, a medium where everyone knows each other, the thugs do business and find themselves in a world of constant violence. [...]
[...] On the one hand, we have the pseudo mafia who stay together, which seem like brothers.For example, Charlie helps Johnny Boy with his money problems, he tries to have the mind of a godfather, takes him under his wing, maybe gives him more importance than he should. And there is the blood family, Johnny Boy's cousin Teresa, who is dating Charlie. Instead of strengthening the ties between the two, this side romance creates a lot of trouble.Therefore, it makes sense it the movie to avoid mixing business with family. [...]
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