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The Underlying Themes Present in Both Godfather and Goodfellas

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The Underlying Themes Present in Both Godfather and Goodfellas essay
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Godfather vs. Goodfellas

Although Godfather and Goodfellas are two different movies, there are a majority of similar themes that run throughout both movies. One prevalent theme is the fall of a great character. By a great character I mean a person of great important and high status. The way both movies portray the fall of a great character is quite different. While The Godfather provides the classier way of the great downfall of Michael, Goodfellas shows the horrific and underlying secrets of the Italian Mobsters and how one man’s life falls to the cruelty of the mafia.

In the beginning of the Godfather, Michael had returned from war and had no intention to become part of his father’s business. Michael was the “good” guy of the moment. As situations and problems started to occur within the family business, Michael had no choice but to become involved within the family business to protect his father. At first, Michael looked like the good guy because he stood up against the people who were trying to kill his father and destroy his family. As the movie proceeded, he became just what his father never wanted him to be, a “bad” guy. You can tell that Michael was truly a good person because his father never wanted the influence of the Italian Mobsters on him. When the father found out, you can tell how torn he was to know that his only pure son has now taken a step into a world where he will never be safe again. Michael’s turning point was when he shot the two people who were of great threat to his family. As the bullets left his gun his safety and innocence were taken with them. What was once known as good and innocent Michael, is now and forever gone. When Michael took the status as Godfather he would forever be a dangerous, powerful, and dishonest man.

In the Goodfellas, Henry Hill always dreamed of becoming an Italian gangster. He always was attracted to the wealth and power the gangsters have obtained. Eventually, he worked his way to a high status within the mob and became quite successful in the business. Before he knew it he was living the high life worry-free. Henry had become so powerful all he had to do was walk into a place and he got the best service possible. However, greed took over Henry. He wanted even more than he had so he became involved with stealing and selling drugs. Henry was warned by other people within the mafia to not get involved with drugs because they do more bad than good. Never-the-less Henry continued his drug scandal and got himself into big trouble. Between being arrested and put into jail for years and having the police follow him around and crack down everyone involved in the business, his life fell apart. He no longer could live the wealthy high life he once loved; instead he had to start all over as a “normal” civilian. What was once the Great Henry is now, what he calls, a nobody.

The Godfather doesn’t show the fall of one great person, but two. The original Godfather himself falls from the high status within the mafia. The way he is dressed down towards the end shows that the class and strength no longer exist. Almost the sense of giving up is in the atmosphere. Being Godfather is no longer as important to him as it had used to be. In Goodfellas the fall of many characters is also within the movie. Three of the top mafia leaders Jimmie, Paulie, and Tommy also find themselves at bottom of the barrel. Both Jimmie and Paulie die in prison and Tommy is killed by his own mafia family. The makeup in Goodfellas is also essential to show the downfall of Henry. In the beginning of the movie, Henry has a glowing complexion, by the end he was much paler and had dark rings under his eyes from the drugs. He looks worn out and defeated.

Godfather and Goodfellas share a lot of similarities throughout both movies. One major factor in the movie was the fall of a great character. The story shows that in the end, people do have a downfall even if they are good natured. You never know what life is going to bring you. As you seen, Michael went from being the good guy to the dangerous Godfather and Henry went from being the big bad gangster to some ordinary guy in the suburbs. The bad can become good or the good can become bad. You never know what to expect in life.

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The Underlying Themes Present in both Godfather and Goodfellas. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from
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