Narrative in a Bronx Tale by Robert De Niro Research Proposal

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Narrative in a Bronx Tale by Robert DeNiro

Robert De Niro's first creation as a director, "A Bronx Tale" is a profound, sometimes funny and often sweet story about the development of an adolescent and about the two fundamental influences with which he comes in contact with and which will eventually probably shape his life as an adult. With several smaller themes, such as the racial prejudices that exist in Bronx during the 1960s (and which, in fact, can be projected to an entirely national scale), the movie is difficult to pinpoint from only one perspective and is, in fact, an overall view of individuals and the interactions between them, as well as the results of those interactions, including in terms of personal influences or prejudices towards other individuals. All these elements transform the movie from a simple film about mobsters to a more complex view to life.

The first part of the movie introduces the main characters of "A Bronx Tale": Sonny, the "wise guy" of the neighborhood, sleek and elegant and, at the same time, a full-time mobster who does not hesitate to kill on small pretexts. On the other side, there is Robert De Niro's character, Lorenzo, a hard-working bus driver who tries to pass on to his son, Calogero, his own respect for hard work as the only instrument by which an individual can reach both the social respect he deserves and the financial fortune that Sonny seems to be getting from other means. In between the two is the focus of the movie, Lorenzo's son, Calogero, pictured as a 9-year-old during the first part of the movie.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Research Proposal on Narrative in a Bronx Tale by Robert De Niro Assignment

The triggering action of the movie is the crime that Calogero witnesses. Sonny kills a person, apparently because of an argument over a parking spot, although Lorenzo is keen to philosophically point out that this living argument is not the cause of that person's demise, but rather the fact that "they just met at the wrong times in their lives." It is not the only time throughout the movie that either Lorenzo or Sonny turns to a philosophical remark to make their point and, as this paper will further examine, it is probably one of the reasons why the audience will eventually have a keen respect both for the mobster Sonny and the hard-working Lorenzo. In the end, one cannot but respect someone who has his own view of life (even if that view may be rejected by society) and is ready to argue his side of things.

When asked by the police details about the murder, Calogero denies having been there or having seen anything. His reticence is a combination of the direct threat that Sonny swiftly delivers as a glance after the crime, and his own combination of awe and admiration that characterize his perception of Sonny. However, this is enough to earn Sonny's openness and his willingness to take Calogero under his wing, despite Lorenzo's arguments.

As the movie progresses, the action advances with a temporal arch of eight years. Calogero is now an adolescent who is still fighting to achieve his own identity with the input and influence he receives from his two father-like figures of his life, Lorenzo and Sonny. This is the right time for the writer to put additional conflicts into the movie, including the racial tension that is part of the atmosphere in the Bronx during the late 1960s. Calogero's feelings for Jane bring forth the rejection of Blacks by the Italian community in a particular region of the U.S. (the location is Bronx, but the story is, in fact, a universal one). Calogero is not only fighting his own battle of choices, as he has to decide which the right role model for him is, but also the racial prejudices of the time.

The idea of the racial prejudice is very interestingly presented and discussed in the movie. The idea of prejudice based on the color of the skin is rather secondary to the real issue that the director means to bring forth, which is the interaction between two different social groups. The main difference between the Italian and the African-American groups is not so much given by the color of their skin, but rather by the complex differences in terms of interrelations within the group, perceptions, traditions and beliefs.

At the same time, the prejudice comes naturally as the defense mechanism that a group develops against another group that is populated in a geographical area that the first group initially populated. This is an almost animal -- like perception that your group needs to protect your territory against the newly arrived group and use all means, from violent to ideological ones (the racial prejudice can be seen as an ideological instrument) not only to fight against the new group, but also to rally the people in your own group in the common fight.

Taking all these into consideration, Calogero's dilemma is emphasized by the fact that him approaching Jane is seen as a betrayal within his own group, which could lead to anything from him being rejected by the group to his marginalization within the group. This partially happens in the movie, where the viewer can thus interpret the fact that he is occasionally scorned by his group for his friendship with Jane.

Certainly, this type of analysis does not exclude the social tension that existed during the 1960s between groups of individuals that were racially different, but it does help to understand it a little better. At the same time, it is also easier to understand, from this perspective, why Calogero's act is so important: he goes not only against the racial prejudices of the time, but also against his own group and the perceptions of the respective group.

The movie is centered on the characters played by Robert de Niro and by Chazz Palminteri, but with Calogero (played by Francis Capra when he is 9 years old and by Lillo Brancato when he is 17) ensuring the connection between these two extremes, these two entirely different personalities. There are so many things to be addressed here. First of all, Lorenzo and Sonny, despite living in the same neighborhood and having the same ethnical and cultural backgrounds, which would have supported the idea that they would have similar perceptions of life, have entirely different scopes and interpretations of what life is and, more notable, what the role of the individual should be in the society and in life in general.

On one hand, there is Lorenzo, for whom the fundamental element of life is work. Work is seen by Lorenzo both as the appropriate instrument by which an individual can earn his living, but also as the philosophical ultimate objective of any individual. For him, work is also the potential mean by which somebody can become a hero. As he tells his son at some point, somebody who gets up every morning to go to work in order to provide for his family is the real hero.

There is another fundamental line in the movie that brings a full light on Lorenzo's image throughout the film and best lets the viewers know what his life philosophy is: "nothing is more tragic than a wasted talent!." This line is also about his hard-working view on life, but also an understanding that there are no shortcuts to get to anything in life. An individual must identify his talent, whatever that is, and then work hard in order to make sure that it will be fully exploited, both by himself as an individual, his family and the society or group he is part of.

Unfortunately, this is a plain type of hero for somebody who is a growing teenager or even a 9-years old child. Such a hero typology does not have the essential characteristic of a hero: charisma. Lorenzo is a wonderful, hard-working man, but he is not charismatic and Robert de Niro understands in his approach that, in order to create the appropriate dilemma and tension for Calogero, as he makes his choices for the future, Sonny needs to be the one with the charisma between the two.

The quality of charisma, especially in a movie such as this one, is that it attracts the interest of both other characters in the movie and the viewers. Sonny does not have much to bring to the film: he does not base his life philosophy on the type of healthy work-related perspective that Lorenzo has, nor does he propose an alternative ethical model. He is, in fact, an unethical and criminal individual. Nevertheless, with his slick approach, his lieutenants, his hang-out place and the appropriate music that is always played there, he has charisma. His charisma is both an individual one, based on his own character, and one influenced by external elements, such as the ones previously mentioned here.

This would be the right time to mention the role that music plays, both in defining some of the characters in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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