Research Proposal: Godfather Movie

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Godfather (movie)

Godfather

Michael Corleone is the youngest son the "Don" Vito Corleone, the head of a New York Mafia "family." The film begins when he returns from active service in the Second World War. His return is welcomed by father and his family when he attends his sister's wedding at the family compound. The first scene of the film sets the tone and atmosphere that is to dominate most of the film. We see how the Godfather is revered and respected by those around him and that his extensive influence as head of the large Mafia family is in essence a community role as well as a criminal one.

In an early scene we also see how ruthless their methods can be. Johnny Fontane asks the Don Vito to help him obtain a role in a film. Tom Hagan is sent by Vito to convince the studio heads to give Fontane a role. At first the studio producer refuses but soon changes his mind when he finds the severed head of his prize horse in his bed.

Michael however differs in a number of respects from the rest of the family. He does not want to participate in the families illegal affairs. This is an important aspect of the film as Michael eventually becomes the new Godfather of the family. This adds to the inner tension and drama to the movie. In the first instance, Michael is the only member of the family who has a college education. He is therefore more intellectual and less earthy then his brothers. In particular he is very different to his more aggressive and volatile brother Sonny. We also meet his fiancee Kay, who is also innocent of the murky machinations of the Mafia family.

While Michael is averse to any of the more nefarious activities of the family, certain circumstances and events take place that force him to take part in the activities of his family. The most important and most direct motivation for Michael is the attempted assassination of his father. This awakens his sense of family and his love for his father and he becomes drawn into the role of a loving son of a Mafia boss.

This event occurs when a rival of the Corleone family wants to start selling drugs in New York. Virgil Sollozzo asks Don Corleone to protect the rival Tattaglia family's planned heroin business. However, the Don refuses to get involved with drugs as it is opposed to his sense of traditional moral values and, furthermore, it could jeopardize hid political connections. As a result he is gunned down and severely wounded by Sollozzo.

When Michael discovers that his father is near death he rushes to protect him in the hospital where he is being treated. There he encounters the other side of crime in the form of the crooked police officer McClusky who is intent on finishing the job that Sollozzo started. McClsuisy is depicted as a mean and cruel individual who is on the payroll of Sollozzo. However, Michael faces McClusky and is helped by the arrival of his older adopted brother, Tom Hagan, and other men who come just in time. The family then meets to decide what steps to take in order to remedy the situation.

In the face of this threat to his family, Michael undertakes an act that will change the direction of his life forever. He decides to kill both McClusky and Sollozzo in order to avenge the attack on his father. This is achieved in a slick and dramatic scene that takes place in a restaurant.

After he has committed this double murder there is no going back for Michael. The fact that he killed a police officer makes his stay in the country untenable and he flees to Sicily for a number of years, which is the ancestral home of the family.

The years in Sicily serve as an appropriate interlude in the films. One of the purposes of this section of the film is to present the mafia family in the U.S. In the wider context of its roots in the relatively primitive and very often violent and vendetta-ridden society of Sicily. It is there that Michael meets the beautiful Apollonia and falls in love. After a courtship that is extremely conservative and traditional they get married. Violence, which is the constant theme and background of the film, is again experienced in the life of Michael Corleone. His young wife is killed in a car bomb explosion that was obviously meant for him. It is time for him to return home. .

While he is in Sicily his brother, Sonny, is killed in a war that erupts between the Corleones and the other members of the Five Families. He falls into a trap when he leaves the guarded family compound to confront his sister's husband, Carlo over his wife-beating. It is an ambush and while Michael escapes death in Sicily his brother is killed at home.

The film moved back to the United States where Don Vito attempts to reconcile the heads of the various Mafia families and stop the bloodshed. He makes an impassioned plea for peace and calls for a halt to the violence and aggression between the different groups. He also plays on the fact that they have all lost family members in this war.

However the depth of the subterfuge in this meeting is revealed by the fact that Don Vito and Michael are in reality plotting to assassinate the heads of all the Mafia families in order to take over control. This plot is systematically organized and Michael advises the family to move away to Nevada before the killing begins.

Betrayal is also an important theme in this film. As they are preparing to move to Nevada, the Don informs Michael that there are family members who are intent on betraying him to the opposition. The death of Vito Corleone heralds a new phase in the Mafia family. He collapses and dies while playing with his young grandson Anthony in his tomato garden. There has to be someone to replace him and his closeness to Michael and Michael's involvement in the affairs of the family over the years, coupled with the death of Sonny, makes him the obvious successor to his father as the head of the family. However, the problem of the war between the different Mafia families still has to be settled.

Michael learns at the funeral that family members Tessio and Carlo are the betrayers. This becomes clear when Tessio arranges a meeting between Michael and Don Barzini, who is a dominant figure in the New York families. This meeting is in fact a trap intended to kill Michael. The meeting is set for the same day as the christening of Connie and Carlo's son, where Michael will be his godfather.

The christening with its symbolism of birth and innocence is sharply contrasted with the events that Michael puts into motion against the heads of the other families. His assassins carry out his orders to kill the heads of the other New York families. This is shown to take place while Michael sits in church. The irony of this contrast between gross murder, innocence and religion is one of the most intensely dramatic moments in the film. This is Michael's move to seize power and to make his family dominant in the area.

The traitors Tessio and Carlo are also killed. A telling moment in the film that indicates the extent of the change in Michael from his earlier innocence is when Kay asks when whether he was involved in the murder of Carlo. Michael's reply is an unequivocal and cold 'no'. This lie makes us realize that he has become part of the family and the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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