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“GoodFellas” is an extraordinary film that depicts relatively common theme about mafia and people associated with it. The way this movie presents the life of gangsters makes it so special. There are no horrible bloody scenes that are typical for this genre of movies and usually are showed in order to evoke at least some emotions in the viewers. However, there is no need to resort to various tricks in this movie since it aims to portray personalities of gangsters rather than describe their actions. This movie itself is like a life of a real gangster: fleeting and intense. Thus it holds the viewer’s attention from the beginning till the very end. Unlike other movies, which are focused on the same topic, this one is not simply a product of Hollywood scriptwriter’s imagination but a story based on true events that happened to real people at a particular times and places. Henry Hill, the protagonist in “GoodFellas,” is a complex personality possessing controversial qualities of the character that made his way from lower class to respected gangster and eventually reverted to the point he started from.
There is no surprise that Henry did not want to live a life of his father since it was associated with poverty and misery in his mind. The only people who embodied his priorities in life such as success, wealth, significance and independence were gangsters. It would be unfair to blame Henry for his choice to become one of the mafia members since there were no other people around him who lived a dignified life in his opinion. Henry’s words “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster” do not represent his true inner voice but rather are a result of the environment he grew up in. Even if becoming a gangster was his personal choice, Henry’s attitudes and actions prove that it was not a part of his character.
Every time Henry becomes a witness of a murder it is possible to read the horror and shock on his face. He never is an initiator of killing and it seems that to kill a person is not an option for him to solve a problem. According to norms and values which identify a real gangster, people who do not belong to mafia or discard their traditions deserve no respect, no help and basically no life. Even though Henry is a part of mafia, it is obviously that not all of their rules correspond with his character and principles. When he sees a person who needs help, he tries to do something for that man as it was in the situation when Henry being still a little boy saw a man who was shot. He brought towels to that man to stop bleeding. Sympathy and compassion are crucial qualities which do not allow us to call Henry a cruel gangster with a hardened heart.
Henry’s biggest fear is to live a common life of an ordinary person who has to stand in the lines with everybody else, park a car only where you are allowed to, not just where you want, and of course pay taxes just as everybody else does. Henry failed to live according to the rules of mafia world which were “never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut (Jimmy Conway).” The main reason for this is that Henry is not a type of a person who could handle all “challenges” and “difficulties” of the gangster’s life. I think that the fact that Henry Hill ends up as a simple average person free from drugs not as a mafia leader proves that the choice made when he was a little boy appeared to be wrong.
The world of mafia is very different from the one average people live in. It is difficult to judge people who have totally different understanding of right and wrong, good and bad. I believe that Henry Hill deserves justification for all what he did and for being a part of what he was. We have no right to condemn a person for making a decision to become a gangster only because it contradicts our personal beliefs since in Henry’s case it was the absence of choice rather than a demonstration of his free will.