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Volume 71, Issue 132, Friday, April 21, 2006

Life & Arts

Pacino turns in classic performance in 'Scarface'

The Daily Cougar

Editor's note: In Focus is an opportunity for writers to express why a past film is still relevant in today's film culture. It also gives writers a chance to explain why the film is significant to them.

Scarface's Tony Montana is perhaps the most recognizable character in today's film culture. You see him plastered all over teenagers' walls, hear his lines from the film quoted in rap lyrics and see other actors mimicking him every now and then.

This film just goes to show what a well-developed character can do for a script that follows such a simple formula. The interesting thing about the film is that it wastes no time in developing the main character in the interrogation scene. A few years before he got a tan, mastered the Cuban dialect and threw on some tacky shirt, Al Pacino was the baby-faced college dropout in The Godfather. To see Pacino in the opening scene reveals the lengths he went to in order to make his character believable. It's arguable that viewers have seen other actors go to such lengths to fill a role, but it'll be hard to argue that any other actor could've played the role better than Pacino.

Oliver Stone, who wrote the script, may have been able to relate to Montana at the time. Stone was fighting a cocaine addiction in Paris while he created the character and eventually whipped out a script. Granted the film was loosely based on 1932's Scarface, but Stone did an excellent job in making the film a more contemporary film.

Stone didn't stray from the violence, which also propelled the movie into the public's eye; the Motion Picture Association of America gave the film an X rating three times before Brian De Palma pleaded that the film was merely portraying real life and earned an R rating.

Aside from all this junk, Pacino's metamorphosis rivals that of Robert De Niro in Raging Bull or Christian Bale's in The Machinist. But Pacino's alteration wasn't as physical as De Niro or Bale's; it was more in the attitude he carried throughout the classic film.

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