Sound Masters: Goodfellas

By Gabe Cowan

When listing the greatest film directors in history, one of the first names to come up is undoubtedly Martin Scorsese. His films have been nominated for a total of 91 Academy Awards and have won 20. In honor of its thirtieth birthday earlier this week, today we’re talking about one of Scorsese’s most critically successful films: Goodfellas.

Based on the true story of the rise and fall of mob associate Henry Hill, Goodfellas combines all of the elements of classic gangster films with modern storytelling. Scorsese knew he had a challenge to evoke the high level of paranoia, anxiety, and intoxication the characters experienced in real life. Shots had to be concise, hard-hitting, and constantly moving. The same went for sound. The sound team could never leave too long of a lull in sound, or the audience might lose the sense of tension they’re supposed to experience along with the characters. And with constant cuts—some extremely jarring—the sound team was forced to connect the visuals in a more fluid manner. A very happy anniversary to the creation of this classic film.