THE GODFATHER

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Overall Impression – An all time classic.  I can’t believe I wasn’t forced to watch this in film school.

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

Who’s your main character? – Michael Corleone.

What’s he trying to accomplish? – Professional: help the Corleone family survive. Personal: figure out where his loyalties lie. Private: figure out what kind of person he is – the man Kay wants him to be… or the man the ‘family’ wants him to be.

Who’s trying to stop him? – There are many elements, but the big ones are the law, Michael’s conscience, his family, and enemies of the family.

What happens if he fails? – Everything the Corleone family has fought for will be lost, and for Michael, family is everything.  Additionally, Michael’s conscience and his relationship with Kay hangs in the balance.

THE FOUR ARCHETYPES

Orphan – Michael is the only male member of his family who doesn’t want to be involved in the family business. He has also been away for WWII, and has only recently come home.

Wanderer – As Michael explores old relationships and learns more about the family’s activities, so do we.  He starts to understand the danger and sacrifices that come with being involved in the Mafia, and its effect on his girlfriend, Kay.  We also see how the family treats its friends and enemies, and how it negotiates the arrival of the heroine market.  When Don Vito refuses to change with the times and refuses a deal with drug smuggler Sollozzo, there’s soon an attempt on his life.

Warrior – Michael volunteers to kill Sollozzo and makes his first ‘hit’ for the good of the family.  He’s forced to hide in Italy as a result, and tries to make a life for himself.  Meanwhile, things heat up between the rival families, and Don Vito does everything he can to avoid an all out war.  Michael returns to assume a role in the business, and after Don Vito dies, he takes revenge against all those who wronged the Corleone family.

Martyr – Michael becomes the head of the family, sacrificing a normal life.  He also forces Kay to become an unwilling martyr, since her life will never be the same as long as she associates with him.

AND, IN THE END…

THE GODFATHER commands respect in so many ways. Even its production is a story unto itself, detailing one of Copolla’s (many) battles against the studios.

Voted one of the greatest movies of all time and launching the careers of some of the greatest actors of all time, THE GODFATHER is a film to be studied as much as it is to be enjoyed.

I once saw Mr. Coppola’s academy award for THE GODFATHER at his vineyard in California. Of course, I was fourteen and had about as much interest in one of the greatest directors of all time as I did in fine wine. I’m still angry with myself for not taking a picture.

– Dan Pilditch

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