Updated September 10, 2022

The American Dream in Film ‘Scarface’

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The American Dream in Film ‘Scarface’ essay
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The American dream is something that is fantasized by many, and glorified through Hollywood. White picket fence, two story house, steady income, happy family, retirement, etc. are all things associated with the American dream. It takes hard work and tough skin to reach this “dream”, and unfortunately some people work so hard to not even reach it and to have it all crumble back down on them. Scarface, directed by Brian De Palma, is a film about an ambitious man coming to America in hopes of creating a good life for himself, but gets stuck in the fantasy of being the biggest, wealthiest, and most dangerous in his line of work, that he leads himself to his own downfall.

In the film Scarface, Tony Montana arrives to a refugee camp in Miami and is given a green card in exchange for assassinating a Cuban general at the request of drug lord, Frank Lopez. They start working at a diner, where Tony becomes irritated with the lifestyle as he claims he’s meant for bigger things. He and his friends are sent on a deal to buy cocaine and when the deal goes bad, they believe they are being set up. Tony and his best friend Manny decide to deliver the cocaine, eliminating the middle man, to Frank Lopez, where Tony meets and becomes infatuated with Lopez’s wife, Elvira Hancock. Lopez then hires Tony and Manny, and all this contributes to the inevitable downfall of Tony Montana.

Tony becomes obsessed with the lifestyle. He is powerful and wealthy and nothing can stop him. His plan to achieve the American dream is not through hard work but rather through violence. When he reached a certain level of wealth he starts stepping all over the people who’ve helped him get where he is. He becomes selfish and only cares about his wellbeing. He even kills his boss Frank Lopez and marries his wife, Elvira. Throughout the movie we see examples of everyday phrases such as “Every man for himself” and “The world is yours”, as Tony’s only concerns become him and his money and how fast he can get his money. Which is almost contradictory to the American dream, as that takes hard work and integrity. Many see Tony Montana as cheating the American dream.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness is a phrase associated with the American dream and with America, the land of opportunity. However, Scarface director, De Palma showed that people trying to gain the American dream the way that Tony does is not going to achieve happiness and therefore not achieve the American dream, due to the dishonorable way of trying to get there. In the film, De Palma represented America, as the land of opportunity for those who are merciless and would willingly kill anyone who tries to get in their way. Even the tagline for the movie is “He loved the American Dream. With a vengeance.”

The American dream is a concept, a belief, an ideal, that whoever comes to America and works hard enough, can create their own version of success for themselves and/or their families. However, there are people, like Tony Montana, who take the opportunity for granted. They idolize the idea so much that they can’t focus on what truly matters. They try to cheat the America dream, when it can only be obtained through honest hard work. Brian De Palma did a great job at representing what happens to those who had the ambition for gaining the American dream, but not the work ethic.

The American Dream in Film ‘Scarface’ essay

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What is the American Dream in Scarface?
Scarface is a gangster movie in which the main character Tony tries to reach his dream of having power and wealth . The director shows that people seeking the American Dream will not attain it if they do not go through a proper channels in life.
What is the message of the movie Scarface?
At its heart, Scarface is about pride The lesson that Tony Montana refused to learn is that pride is his biggest weakness . One of the elements that made the character so popular is that Tony doesn't take anything from anyone. He has his own way of doing things, and he won't sacrifice that for anything.
What race was Al Pacino in Scarface?
Loosely based on the 1929 novel of the same name and serving as a loose remake of the 1932 film, it tells the story of Cuban refugee Tony Montana (Al Pacino), who arrives penniless in Miami during the Mariel boatlift and becomes a powerful and extremely homicidal drug lord.
What Scarface means?
Scarface definition A person with a scarred face . noun.
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