The Godfather (E2W6)
As a whole, I am interested in writing about the movies of The Godfather series, specifically the first two. One of the main reasons that I am drawn to write about these movies is because of the different approach that they take when describing the mobsters. Most movies of the time described the mobsters as primitive people whose goal in life was to be brutal and cruel to everyone around them until they rose to the top of the power chart. Many movies also portrayed the mobsters as having impure sexual tendencies and thoughts. The Godfather films, however, portray mobsters in a completely different light. The show that the family is of the utmost priority and anyone disrespecting any of its members is likely to be dealt with severely. It also shows that without the trust and security that a family provides, the entire operation could crash down around them.
There are many parts in the movies where the family bond is relevant and is put above all else. Throughout the film, there are instances where the family gathers for dinner or Sunday lunch. These gatherings are important because it shows through what is being said that the family bond is greater than all other bonds. The men of the family also realize the importance of keeping the women and children safe, so they do not talk business at the table. There was one instance where this rule was broken, and the man who broke the rule, Carlo Rizzi, was reprimanded for it and made to look like an idiot in front of everyone.
Another instance that shows the importance of family in this film is when the Corleone sister, Connie, is seen by her brother Sonny with her face swollen. Sonny instantly becomes furious and goes off to find her husband, and beats him senseless. This goes to show that the Corleone family cares for each and every one of its members and if you wrong one of the members, you will be dealt with. This is a stark contrast to other movies such as Scarface, where the main character is often seen abusing his wife in public, and he does not care one bit for the people around him that helped him to get to that position that he is in. Another movie that has differences in this area is Goodfellas, where the main character is seen cheating on his wife on multiple occasions and no-one tells him that it is a bad thing, if anything, they are doing it also, so they congratulate him for getting a side-woman.
The director of the Godfather films, Francis Ford Coppola, goes to extraordinary lengths to show how important the family unit really was to the mobsters of the 1940s and 50s. One scene in particular, Don Vito Corleone is talking about family and he says “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” This statement goes completely against all of the other stereotypes of the typical Italian mobsters of the 1940s and 50s, and makes them seem quite a bit more human. I believe that the director did this to show that while they were immoral people, they did everything for the betterment of their family, to give their loved ones the best life that they could have.
Don Corleone shows another insight to the life of mobsters when he says “Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family.” This goes to show that while family is obviously held in the highest regard; those who are on good terms with the Corleone family will be protected and treated fairly as well. This becomes evident when people come to the Godfather to ask for favors on the day of his daughter’s wedding. Because he is a Sicilian, it would be rude of him to deny any requests on that day. However, because it is only friends and family attending the wedding, they are all people that he is looking out for anyway.
When it comes to business, however, the only ones allowed to have the inside scoop are members of the family. The Godfather makes this very clear when he says “Never tell anyone outside the family what you are thinking.” This goes beyond just business, but in general, trying to protect the interests of the family and overall the safety of family members. If they were to speak what was on their mind to someone outside of the family, it could travel to the wrong ears and end up creating a bad situation such as an assassination or gang war, or both. Sometimes even family members need to be reminded of this, like when Fredo betrayed the family in The Godfather Part II, and Michael says to him, “Don’t ever take sides with anyone over the family again” implying that if he did, he would be killed.
These are just a few examples of times when the director shows that the family unit was the main building block upon which he set up his movie The Godfather. Without the family, there would be very little order or reason for these mobsters to do what they do, but with the family, they have their reason to fight, steal, and strike fear in the hearts of men. The family is what separates these movies from other mobster movies of the time period. It set the new standard for mobster movies that continues to be prevalent to this day. Many of the new mobster movies have a similar structure in that they revolve around the family unit much like in the Godfather. One show in particular, The Sopranos, even mentions the movie The Godfather as a requirement to be a part of their “family.”