GS Kariyapperuma

Nov 18, 2020

6 min read

Scarface — The Rise and the Fall of Tony Montana

Al Pacino as Tony Montana

he searing update of Howard Hawks’s 1932 classic by the director Brian de Palma Scarface (1983) has been one of the greatest gangster-thrillers of the cinematic history. It is clear that the story of the movie is based on the highly addictive notorious drug Cocaine and it dives deep into the thug’s life successfully. Oliver Stone wrote this script when he was struggling to refrain from the cocaine addiction. He, who revealed the bad effects of cocaine consumption also added “I don’t say that it [cocaine] never helps in writing”. The facts remain unchanged that Scarface is a movie that reveals the American sub culture, the process of which the Cuban refugees adapted to the American society and the politics and the capitalism that entangle with the drug business.

The movie has a deep plot as well as a strong representation of the common social status from the beginning to the end. The story wraps around the small-time crook Antonio ‘Tony’ Montana who comes to the United State of America among the 125,000 Cuban refugees in 1980s. It is obvious that in the first appearance on the screen, the glimmering eyes and the splashing words of Tony foreshadows a man filled with great desires.

I should’ve come here ten years ago. I’d have been a millionaire by this time.

Tony comes to America with a scar on his face but no one uses the name ‘Scarface’ to him for 26:41 of screening time until the man at the motel with the chain saw threats him with the Spanish word “Cara Cicatriz” which refers to the English term “Face with scar” — Scarface. According to my opinion, it is the place where the protagonist of the movie, Tony “Scarface” Montana — the great drug dealer starts to rise. Tony is a person with an anti-communist political status who is thirsting for sex, money and blood. The director always places Tony in higher places which symbolizes the rise of his personality from the crook to the big boss. It is explored that the blood red color is used in most of the frames which emphasizes the violence filled in the movie.

Tony at the motel

A regular person likes to have what they like and consume them according to their wish. There are two ways to receive them. One through justice. The other one, through injustice. Selecting one from these two ways is based on the certain person’s intelligence, the morality, the law frame of the country or the fear to be sinned. One of these factors becomes the obstacle to the person’s actions that leads him to fulfill his desires through injustice. But there is a group of people who break all these boundaries and reach to their goals. The inevitably growing addiction to the power and cocaine propel Tony to choose the second path to reach his aim.

You gotta make the money first. When you get the money, you get the power. When you get the power, you get the woman.

It is important that the transformation of Tony into a powerful drug lord from nothing is a fantasy. The feeling that someone like him who reaches their gigantic goals is undoubtedly shown through this movie.

Your son made it, Mama. He’s a success.

It is noticed that Tony is a family man. He loves his family. The scene which he walks proudly through the door of his mother’s house, and the smile he wore on his face indicates that he wanted to prove that a man from his status can become a success too. The photo of him with his wife Elvira, his friend Manny and his sister Gina symbolizes the drug smuggler cares about his family.

The movie reveals the fact that a person with the desires like Tony who fulfill them all, get lost at the end where they cannot choose whether they should enjoy the treasures they earned or earn more or suffer on the things they did to reach that place. Tony who reaches the peak of his desire to become the king of narcotics, understands that it is just an air filled balloon which fly high in the sky and their nothing important in it except the high place in the society.

Is this it? …Eating, drinking, fucking, sucking, snorting? Then what?

It is interesting that Tony realizes the truth of the high level of the society as he starts to live in it. The way he reacted to Gina’s appearance in the club and finding her with his friend Manny creates the idea that Tony does not want his sister to get polluted from the cruel society. He is overprotective and has a father’s love toward Gina. He gets frighten that if Gina deals with this type of society, she will end up like him who no longer can bear the situation he faces with the treasures and sins that he owns.

What do you think I am? You think I kill two kids and a woman? …I don’t need that shit in my life!

Though Tony is a drug smuggler and a man with blood on his hands, he has his own rules which denotes that he has a great personality. He does not want to get labeled as a killer of women and children. It clears the idea that there is a sparkle of light in his dark life. At the latter part of the movie, the director captures Tony with a heap of cocaine on his table and let him sit in the middle of a killer and Gina. It can be identified as the moment where Tony gets lose between his business and his family.

Tony with Cocaine

It is crystal clear that Tony Montana is a man who trusts himself as he never gives up on his decisions. At the climax of the movie, the frame gets struck in the bungalow of Tony, where he announces that he will start a war with Saso, his drug dealer eventually, gets surrounded by the henchmen of Saso. Tony rises with his strength to face the wave of gunned men in his living room. He has his rough tongue until he gets shot on his back. It is interesting that this strength of Tony lasts for the whole movie. The scene that he falls from the stairs to the water pond symbolizing the great fall in Tony Montana’s life can be considered as a successful cinematic artwork.

Say Hello to My Little Friend!

It is my opinion that the portrayal of Tony Montana by Al Pacino is one of the best performances in the cinematic history. His walk, talk and physical appearance create the unforgettable memory of the Cuban crook which does not permit you to take your eyes away from the screen. The close ups of Pacino’s raging eyes and his ear deafening lines highlight his performances. It is mentioned that Scarface was among the earliest movies in which the expletive “fuck” is used persistently, 226 times in total.

You fuck with me? You fucking with the best!

The fact remains untrodden that Tony Montana in his white pinstripe suit and red bow, holding a Cohiba cigar in his hand marks a turning point in the world cinema.

Antonio “Tony” Montana with a Cohiba cigar