Scarface: A Brutal, Gratuitous Immigrant Story

Intro by Brandon

Enough about the good guys! Today, we’re doing something completely different—we’re looking at Scarface, the 1983 crime film classic about Tony Montana, a Cuban immigrant making a name for himself in the drug trafficking underworld. In the cinema world of heroes and villains, Tony isn’t really either, although he definitely leans more villain. He’s full of vices, and instead of having a tragic flaw, he has a tragic virtue that brings him down.

Unlike many other films about criminals, Scarface makes no effort to make its lead character likeable. It doesn’t ask us to empathize with a criminal. Instead, this is a harrowing lesson on greed and self-destruction. The film takes a flawed human and simply allows him to be a flawed human, and shows the natural consequences for his dangerous choices. That was a bold choice for the writer and director, and one that ultimately paid off and gave us a surprisingly human film about a man dangerously close to being inhuman.

The film gives Maria and me a lot to talk about, including discontent with material possessions, whether mental illness contributes to violence, the pressures immigrants face in finding success, and, of course, Al Pacino’s amazing performance in this film.

Now, that’s not to say that the film is without its flaws. The violence and machismo are over the top, and the music is frequently a little too much. It shouldn’t be surprising that a movie about excess is, well, excessive, but these can still hinder the viewing experience.

So settle in, grab your cocaine, and get ready for me and my little friend to talk about Scarface on this episode of Peculiar Picture Show, the podcast that talks about movies, maladies, and mental health!

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