This essay aims to analyze the function of the narrator in the 1993 movie, “Carlito’s Way,” directed by well-respected filmmaker, Brian De Palma. I will focus on how the narrator manipulates the audience due to his impartially interventions with the purpose of establishing a close relationship with them. The first scene of the movie is a good example of an internal narrator, who “guides” the audience through the plot of the movie through a flashback.
However, before moving the viewer to the action, the narrator anticipates the beginning of the outcome of the film, thus giving us enough information to guess what could happen at the end. In this manner, thanks to the narrator, we know important information earlier than other characters so he already attracts us to him. Nevertheless, he does not disclose all the information to maintain suspense. In addition to this, we should also consider the subjectivity of the narrator’s point of view when he is on the stretcher and the camera spins around, which intensifies his personal perspective as a part of the manipulative device.
Another interesting scene is that in which Carlito (Al Pacino) escapes from the brawl that has been between his cousin, Rolando and other gangsters. During his flight, the narrator’s voice is activated to tell us the protagonist’s intention of leaving the city and starting another life. This is how we are the first to know his new aim; the narrator is giving us the privilege to manage this information before the other characters know about it. Thereby, even though he just killed several men, we tend to identify ourselves with this character due to the narrator’s hopeful statement of intentions.
Two more scenes should be taken into account: one is that in which the narrator tells us how he met his lawyer, David (Sean Penn) and what kind of relationship they have. We have seen David other times on screen but until the narrator does not explain who he is, we ignore his function in the film. The narrator clarifies their friendship since the very beginning to allow the audience to understand Carlito’s loyal position during the film, thus making us feel admiration for him although he eventually “kills” David.
The other important scene belongs to the romantic storyline of the movie. There, Carlito shows his feelings for Gail (Penelope Ann Miller) by means of the narrator’s voice. He makes us his confidants and tells us many more things than he will tell Gail. Therefore, in these two scenes, through the narrator, positive features of Carlito are presented-allegiance and sensitivity-so his dark past is attenuated in order to extoll character’s good aspects rather than bad ones.
As a result, this manipulation gets that we empathize with Carlito. To sum up, the protagonist’s role as an internal narrator prevents him from displaying an objective vision of the story. Although his interventions seem random, behind them a system of handling is hidden. That is, the narrator adopts the strategic position of showing his feelings with the aim of winning over the audience and achieving a kind of complicity with us. Consequently, we may think Carlito has good qualities but, actually, he is an antihero.