The Godfather

The Godfather ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I never noticed the significance of the moment where Michael calls Sonny after hearing about the attempt on his father's life before. Rather than bringing Kay (who by the way, was the one to inform him of the news having noticed the headline to begin with) into the phone booth with him, or even leaving the door ajar, his immediate instinct is to go in alone and firmly shut it behind him, symbolically bringing himself into the family business and shutting Kay out in the process. To drive the point home, their separation is ominously framed with Michael in the foreground and Kay isolated in a cage-like structure behind him, watching but unable to influence him, like a carefully controlled pet, best admired from a distance.

This scene marks the turning point in Michael’s attitude towards Kay. At Connie’s wedding during the film’s opening, he goes out of his way to bring Kay into the family photo. Coppola emphasises how much Michael wants her to be a part of his life by initially framing her out of sight. The camera is then forced to move unnaturally to follow him moving out of frame to bring her in. By contrast, at the film’s ending, Kay is harshly shut out of both the frame and her husband’s trust, relegated to the periphery of his now centre-stage familial ‘obligations’, aka his criminal and political ambitions.

As he becomes more involved with the family business, Michael’s increasingly low view of the women in his life extends to Apollonia. The two barely exchange a word before their wedding, and based on her childish behaviour later on, they seemingly have little in common. One of her few significant stretches of screen time contains the only instance of nudity in the three hour runtime. As Michael consummates their marriage, he symbolically gives himself over fully to his family’s way of life. And in the process, Apollonia is reduced to a mere object of pleasure and practicality, a means of providing Michael with further political connections, personal protection and immersion in Sicilian culture.

Besides that, all I have to say is that it was a pleasure seeing this on the big screen for its 50th anniversary. Oh, and Rota's score just seems to sound more and more mournful every time I watch this.

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