The Godfather: Part I (1972) Dir. Mario Puzo

Posted: December 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

The Godfather is an American gangster film based on the novel with the same name. It has received many awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, etc. The movie revolves around the word family and respect. The director emphasises how important family is to a mafia family by showing the introduction at the wedding ceremony of Vito’s daughter. This scene lasted for about thirty minutes of the film.

Michael Corleone, the son of Vito Corleone, has a clear character development. Of Vito’s children, he is certainly the best candidate to take over the family. But Michael was never supposed to get involved in the Mafia. Michael at the beginning of the film was so different to Michael at the ending. He was supposed to become a senator, maybe president. Even when he does begin working for his father, he doesn’t seem fully reconciled to the decision. He promises Kay before they marry that the family will become ‘legitimate’ soon.

Of the many Corleone women in the film, Kay is the only one who can never accept the Mafia way of life and is so against it. Others may fight it for a time, but all eventually give in. Kay moves in the opposite direction. In the movie, she does not agree to it, but neither does she even objects. Instead, she ignores reality, using her love for Michael as an excuse to avoid seeing the truth. But at the very end of the film, as the door to Michael’s office closes on her, we can sense the awakening of realisation.

Michael is concerned with legitimacy, while Vito cares more about respect. From the moment he takes over the Corleone family, Michael wants to make his family legitimate. By legitimate, he means free of criminality and immorality. He is also concerned with assimilation. He doesn’t want to kill, bribe, and extort, and he doesn’t want to make money through gambling, prostitution, and drug trafficking. He wants to be respected by American law and society. On the other hand, Vito’s concern, is with respect, rather than legitimacy. As a don, he requires respect from everyone around him, and people respect him out of fear and the desire for Vito’s favours. Respect is the key of a Mafia family ladder, with the top members, such as the don, receiving respect from everyone beneath him. Disrespect however, or even inadequate respect, is punished with death. Respect establishes powerful relationships and functions as a method of exchange. For Vito, showing proper respect by, kissing the don’s ring, exchanging favours, making requests politely are formal gestures that show respect. They are part of the order that keeps the social structure in place.

Slow paced and boring at some parts, i believe that this is one of my all time favourite film. I think all film students around the world should watch and learn from this movie. The ending shot of this movie is definitely one of m favourite scenes. When the camera dollies away from the mafia business room as Kay walks out, we can see people paying respect to the new godfather (Michael) by kissing on his don ring.

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