Did you know that before Francis Ford Coppola’s The
Godfather came out, La Cosa Nostra was about as different as it could possibly
be? Contrary to popular belief, The Godfather was not based on the Mafia. In
fact, it was just the other way around; the Mafia was based entirely on the
movie. Before the film, the Family was nothing more than a bunch of cutthroat
thugs who would sell each other out at the slightest mention of cash. After its
release however, real-life mafiosos began to brandish values such as honor, loyalty,
tradition and some even altered their speech patterns to match that of Don Vito
Corleone’s which goes to show you just how much of an influence a great movie
can have on society (especially Italian-American immigrants).
Unlike other gangster films I have watched, which portray
crime as deplorable and allows you to view the movie’s events as either an
outsider or from the law’s point of view, The Godfather allows one to see
gangster life internally. It basically glorifies the idea of a crime syndicate
that looks out for each other and shows each other fondness and respect (fear and
respect are apparently synonymous). It makes you almost want to join in on
their brotherhood and revel in the glory. Keep in mind that the film shows none
of the actual crime rings supposedly operated by the family such as extortion,
prostitution, etc. It also portrays lawmen as arrogant and corrupt such as the
FBI agents who crash the wedding “disrespectfully” as well as the policeman who
is under a rival family’s payroll.
I think the most important aspect of this film is the
evolution of Michael, initially innocent and doe-eyed, to a ruthless, murderous
leader due to unforeseen circumstances. Basically, once you’re in the life, you
can never get out. I also noticed that true to life, nobody ever sees the wrong
in themselves, often justifying their mistakes. Though Michael at first
distances himself from his family in order to be accepted by Kay, he never
shows any attempt at stopping his family’s crimes. I found certain lines in the
movie particularly striking.
My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power,
like a president or senator.
Adams: Do you know how naive you sound, Michael?
Presidents and senators don’t have men killed.
Who’s being naive, Kay?
I’m really glad to be able to watch this film. I used to
have this classmate who kept bugging me to watch it, which I think is precisely
why I never did. His constant praises for the film made me feel like it was
probably another one of those overrated fads that are abundant these days. It
didn’t help that said classmate always had slicked back hair, was fat, and
tried to be friends with everybody. Now, having watched it, I guess I can see
the appeal of having money and power, but this comes at the cost of other
people constantly trying to topple you over to get a slice of the cake. Still
it is a great film that truly changed the way people view crime.
I still liked Scarface better though. More chainsaws and M16’s.