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Film Analysis: "Scarface" vs. "The Departed" Essay

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The gangster or mob film genre has captivated audiences for nearly one hundred years, dating back to the silent film era. Introduced through films such as The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912) and Underworld (1927), the genre has become increasingly complex in its development, evidenced by the sophisticated narratives and advanced cinematographic techniques of more recent films such as Road to Perdition (2002) and The Departed (2006). This paper will serve to analyze only two of these brilliant works, and will do so through a compare and contrast format.
Howard Hawks’s Scarface: The Shame of the Nation (1932) focuses on gang warfare and police intervention during a power struggle for Prohibition-era Chicago. This pre-Hays Code gangster film also contains a cry for political and social change regarding the way in which the federal government handles crime. The earliest to be compared, this film employs all of the characteristics of classic Hollywood style, as well as setting the mode for subsequent films of this type. Melodramatic in nature, gangster films use conventional characters such as heroes, heroines, and villains often placed in narratives that include predictable plot elements such as improbable reversals of fortune, accidents, and last-minute rescues. These characteristics can be identified in both Scarface and Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Upon completion of critical analysis of both of these films, it may be recognized that Scorsese employs the use of allusion to previous works known in the art, and in particular, The Departed may be seen as paying homage to Scarface: The Shame of the Nation.
While Scarface shows the beginnings of the genre of gangster films, The Departed makes use of previous works and puts a spin ...


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...l Higher Education, 2009. Print.
2. Bergan, Ronald. Film. New York: DK Pub., 2006. Print.
3. The Departed. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Perf. Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson. Warner Bros., 2006. DVD.
4. Derschowitz, Jessica. ""The Departed" Has Connection to James "Whitey" Bulger - Celebrity Circuit - CBS News." Breaking News Headlines: Business, Entertainment & World News - CBS News. Web. 17 July 2011. .
5. Durks, Tim. "Crime and Gangster Films." Greatest Films - The Best Movies in Cinematic History. American Movie Classics. Web. 10 July 2011. .
6. Scarface. Dir. Howard Hawks and Richard Rosson. Perf. Paul Muni. Universal, 1932. DVD.
7. Sikov, Ed. Study Guide to Accompany American Cinema/American Culture. McGraw-Hill Humanities Social, 2009. Print.


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