Named as one of the best movies of all time, this film does not disappoint. The premise alone, even without its fame, would be enough to draw anyone in. The story about the internal struggle of a family working as an underground crime organization set in a post war New York City pulls in the viewers by the shroud of mystery in it. Hiding behind closed doors and veiled meetings, the Corleone family make their shady deals under their political protection.
Although it would be easy to mistake the movie to be about Don Vito Corleone, it is actually about his youngest son Michael. The chronicle of how the former war hero rose to power is filled with bloodshed and ruthless decisions. Being the most reluctant to enter into the family business, Michael is forced to do so due to his brothers’ failure.
Michael is the most rational and clear thinking of the three brothers, not including the adopted Tom Hagen. The eldest, Sonny, is much too hot-headed and prone to violent reactions. He is impulsive and does not think his actions through. This is frowned upon as seen when Vito reprimands him for telling a person outside the family what he thinks. After finding out that his brother-in-law was physically abusing his sister, Sonny flies off in understandable rage. That was my favourite part when Sonny starts beating up Carlo with energy fuelled by love for the family and anger for Carlo’s audacity to hit his pregnant wife. These uncontrollable characteristics though are a flaw when it comes to succeeding his father’s position as the godfather.
Fredo, the second son, is not smart or adept enough to be head this crime family. His reaction to when his father was shot was pathetic as he just sat down and cried. His attempt to fire his gun failed when he merely fumbled and dropped it. He was the most unfit for the Vito’s position since he is seen as the weakest among all of them.
Michael however detaches himself from people which proves to be his biggest weakness and greatest strength. How he refused to reciprocate Kay’s “I love you,” is a clear sign that he knows emotions can be used against a person. But it comes as a liability when it comes to keeping the family together. He had his brother-in-law killed because he proved to be a threat and betrayer to the family. Despite knowing that he would make his sister a widow and his godson half an orphan, Michael knew that it had to be done. He takes in his sister’s misery without an ounce of guilt on his face.
Michael’s ability to persuade is reminiscent of Don Vito’s. He can assure a person of his harmless, threaten with a straight face, and get what he wants in the end. In the case of Carlo, he managed to calm him down by lying so well. In order to marry the girl in Sicily, he did not use violence yet when he spoke to the girl’s father, he chose his word well. He said that he meant no harm then divulging information to make him vulnerable put the father in a position of domination. Then by saying that he was the best thing for her and threatening slightly but clearly, Michael shows that he gets what he wants. He offers him a way out of the mess by introducing his plan to meet his daughter. Michael has immense and convincing powers of persuasion that he would be the best choice for being the godfather despite being the youngest.