The Godfather Trilogy: A Pointless Battle
The films of The Godfather trilogy are often called the “gangster saga” and are criticized for romanticizing the mafia – but this can only be said by people who have not seen the powerful psychological meaning of films that have changed people’s attitudes towards violence on the screen and showed its destructive effect in life.
First of all, The Godfather is about a family. This is not only about the closest circle of relatives, but about a community where they love and support each other, where there is no place for trifles, where you can always find mutual understanding and forgiveness. Yes, you will be forgiven for everything – except for betrayal. There is no romance here, nothing touching – we are talking about a way of survival.
The head of the family, a child who fled the revenge of the Sicilian mafiosi, raises his children in American society. This does not mean that the law rules here. On the contrary, the reverse side of the “democratic” society in Coppola’s films is exposed to the limit: everyone is bought and sold, from a patrol police officer to a senator. How is life in America different from life in Sicily? It’s even more dangerous here.
How could Vito Corleone raise children in a corrupt world? Only by instilling in them the correct concepts of the seme, creating their own personal code of honor. Anyone who promises friendship and loyalty can count on family patronage. Anyone who betrays his family dies. The third is not given, and it is not needed. All family members are tied with blood – both the blood that flows in their veins and the blood that they shed for the good of the family.
Crime as a subject of art
Vito Corleone wanted to lead an honest life. He hoped that the new homeland would give him the opportunity to quietly earn his living. But, entering America, the emigrants brought with them the way of life from which they fled; in sacks and trunks, they carried not only belongings, but also the unwritten laws that they established in their neighborhoods. Rarely did anyone manage to climb to such peaks that Vito conquered. And rarely did anyone manage to show the capabilities and scope of the criminal genius in the way that Coppola did.
Every scene in the film where a crime is played out is perfect. She bewitches the viewer. Crimes are not admirable in themselves; they become the subject of research. All the crimes that members of the Corleone family commit are part of their lives. They do not revel in violence, for them human weakness is just a tool, murder is the movement of pieces on the giant chessboard of life.
Mafia is immortal
The continuity of generations throughout the films of the trilogy is dispassionately captured by a camera camera. Don Vito Corleone at the height of his fame. Next to him are his sons. One is devoted to his father with all his heart, the second is an opportunist, and the third does not want to be ranked among family matters at all. Don’s daughter marries her beloved man; she knows nothing about business and does not want to know. But life has decreed that the youngest son and daughter become the keepers of his covenants.
In the third part of the film, when it seems that the Corleone clan is about to cease to exist, the young and charismatic Vincent Mancini, the illegitimate son of Santino, the eldest son of Don Vito, appears on the scene. And now we have before us Don Vincenzo Corleone, ready to give up love in order to put on the coveted ring of the godfather. As long as the blood flows in Vito’s descendants, his clan is immortal.
Nothing personal. It’s only business
Starting with his involvement in crime on the streets of the Italian slums of New York, Vito Corleone has built a gigantic empire. His main trump card is “bought” politicians. Other members of mafia clans have to bow to him on every issue. By refusing such a “political cover” for the drug trade, Vito defends his moral rules, but acquires mortal enemies.
Vito, doing the right thing, made a mistake: an attempt to impose moral principles on people without morality is a losing business. You can’t be half a criminal. No matter how wonderful your goals and thoughts are, sooner or later you will have to give up on them. In the end, Vito still had to give up and sign an agreement with the rest of the families in order to save his business and the lives of his loved ones. As powerful as the Don was, he was defeated. He wanted to stay clean, sailing on a sea of mud, and the brutal reality was stronger.
The second part of the trilogy tells how Vito Andolini became the powerful don of Vito Corleone. The beginning of his journey is typical of many Italian immigrants; but most of them ended their lives in prison or at the knife of their fellows. What helped Vito become who he is?
Vito was completely, with all his heart, devoted to the family. Thanks to this love and devotion, natural intelligence and practical acumen, he became a brilliant strategist, able to calculate any situation many steps forward. His warnings, predictions and insights are the result of the work of a keen analytical mind.
Don Vito is not so strong in the power of profit as in the need to control the situation. He strikes preemptively, tries not to miss the slightest thing in order to ensure the safety and peace of those whom he considers to be his friends. Having survived the assassination attempt, he dies peacefully, like a peasant in his vineyard. The last thing he hears is the cheerful laughter of his grandson. So the last Sicilian poor man, who never left his native island, could have died.
The metamorphosis with Michael Corleone is probably the main semantic part of the trilogy. A war hero, a marine, a future lawyer – this is how we see him in the first frames of the film. But as soon as his father is on the verge of death, all his gloss flies from Michael. He turns into a passionless, brutal killer. He is not reckless, not hot, like Santino. He is firm and consistent. He puts everything in its place, he does not stop before the murder of his brother – Fredo, he makes brilliant political and economic moves.
But he cannot keep humanity like Vito. The fire in his eyes is slowly dying out. His face begins to resemble a lifeless mask. Michael gives up everything human that is in him. He kills in himself the love that lived in the heart of his father. Therefore, people who are dear to him either leave him or die.
The meaning of the ending of the trilogy
Death comes for everyone – whether you are a mafia donor or the last street thief. The godfather at the end of his life was left alone with his bitter memories and the land that his ancestors watered with their sweat and blood. The orange – a symbol of death – falls from his weakened hands, in which he once held American senators and Vatican pontiffs.
His death is bitter and lonely. All his power was not worth the sacrifices that had to be made. This is how Michael Corleone’s life ends; this is how the Godfather trilogy ends.