When I started to think about what I wanted for my project I wasn’t sure about much but I was sure that I wanted to explore a genre. I wanted to explore the history of a genre by through video form. Originally I wanted to make a video on the genre of monster films but I decided that I would shift to the Gangster genre. Though many contemporary Gangster films are well known there is a long and rich history of gangster films to draw from for this project. To start off my project I plan on capturing clips from famous and critically acclaimed films throughout the genres history. I would then take these moments from the films throughout the history of the gangster genre and use them to create a series of montages. These montages would then be used edited together for the theme and direction of the final product of my video. The end result will be a video that covers the history of gangster films through the use of clips from different era’s and also telling the story arc of the gangster genre by creating it using the clips. I am going to be using these moments from gangster movies throughout history to create the basic story acts from the gangster genre. The video will use clips from the various films through the history of gangster films and use them to play out the basic story arc of the genre
Gangster films if examined can be largely summed up by looking at the basic premise it has held from the start. The first act consists of a down out of luck anti-hero from a bad neighborhood finds himself unable to live or succeed in American society in a way usually sympathetic to the audience. In the second Act the anti-hero embraces a life of criminal activity and exploitation of others to make it in America. In the third Act the anti-hero usually achieves success from his exploitation and the success is fetishized and glamorized for the audience. In the fourth act the anti-hero through his own actions usually immoral to the audience begins a swift downfall from prestige, success or power. In the fifth act the anti-hero pays for his actions with his life and serves as a lesson in either social conditions or morality. Not all gangster films strictly adhere to this format. Some films empathize with their characters like Menace II Society and others revile them like Goodfellas. Different movies play around with the format of the gangster genre but they all start from this premise. It is this premise that I am going to create using clips from Gangster films throughout the genre’s history.
Gangster films often strike up images of recent films or maybe even movies from the 70s like the Godfather but they have been around from nearly the beginning of cinema. The first ever gangster film The Black Hand is from 1906 while the first major gangster film The Musketeers of Pig Alley dates to 1912 and was directed by W.D. Griffith. Gangster films have been around for a while and this long history offers a rich field of films to choose from. I plan on using scenes from The Public Enemy (1931), Public Enemies (2009), White Heat (1949), Juice (1992), Scarface (1983), Scarface (1932), Menace II Society (1993), The Petrified Forrest (1936), Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995), Layer Cake (2004), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), The Godfather (1972), The Godfather II (1974) and The Godfather II (1990). I may use scenes from more films or maybe this list may be too many, I’ll find out when I start to put the video project together. As it is now I plan on using films that are primarily gangster films so noir films or thrillers won’t be used. If some films may be several stories like the Godfather which is also an immigrant story among others as well as a gangster film it might be used. I am not sure about films that are both gangster and cop films. Films like the French Connection, New Jack City, King of New York and so on. They do have great characters who are gangsters and they follow the gangster character arc that I described above but they aren’t just gangster Genre films so I am not sure if I should use them. I also have been sticking to mostly American films; do you think I should include from other cinemas like Hong Kong, China or Japan or would that not work. I may or may not include films or mixed genre or films from other cinemas yet but I plan on exploring them and seeking other points of view on films that I should use.
351:209:02 (Spring 2014)
TH 4,5 (1:10-4:10pm) MU 305
Manuel Betancourtbmanuel@scarletmail.rutgers.edu Office Hour: THU 11-12 @ the Plangere Culture Lab
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