What if an alien in the future stumbled upon The Godfather? Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid.
The Godfather (1972)
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan
Production Co: Paramount Pictures, Alfran Productions
Available on: Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Sony Entertainment Network
Written by: Ben Steiner
Analysis & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Starring: Mark Schroeder (https://twitter.com/mark_schroeder)
Edited by: Ryan Hailey
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
Additional Notes by: Tommy Cook
The Godfather’s Hidden Meaning – Earthling Cinema
Greeting, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week’s artifact is The Godfather, directed by Gerald Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Wayans and Alf Pacino. Often considered one of the greatest Earth films of all time, the film is responsible for centuries of people putting cotton balls in their cheeks as a hilarious and original party trick.
Our eponymous protagonist is Vito Corleone, who has a party for his daughter where people bother him in his office and he doesn’t spend any time with his daughter. In lieu of thank-you notes, he sends out personalized horse heads.
The Corleones’ rival family, the Tattaglias, want Vito’s help getting in the drug trade so they can finally be cool. Vito sends someone to spy on them, and they send him some fish, which makes everyone mad because they’re more of a steak family. The Tattaglias also try to kill Vito, which makes him absolutely livid, so his oldest son Sonny takes over. Sonny has Tattaglia’s son killed, even though he himself is a son and should know not to violate the Son Code. Then his brother Michael kills some other guys with a toilet gun.
At this point it’s open warfare, so Michael hightails it to Sicily, the safest place on Earth. Shortly thereafter, Sonny is killed at a toll booth for not having exact change, and Michael’s Italian wife is killed by Michael’s car. That’s what happens when you don’t change your oil every six months.
Vito says enough is enough, so he promises the Five Families he’ll stop being so straight-edge and won’t try to avenge his son’s death, scout’s honor. Michael comes home and marries a new girl, then takes over the family business, promising to turn it legitimate in five years or their money back.
In a bid to be taken seriously, Michael’s son Anthony murders Vito with a watering can. Not to be outdone, Michael has all the other dons assassinated, kills his brother-in-law, and becomes the Godfather Part II.
The Godfather is characterized by the dichotomy between family and “the family,” a.k.a the mob, a.k.a the mobbly-wobbly. In the most famous scene, shots of Connie’s son being baptized are juxtaposed with shots of Michael’s crew killing the other head honchos. Michael is baptized as “The Godfather” at the same time he becomes a literal godfather to his nephew, one of cinema’s great coincidences.
Despite sharing the same human word, family and “the family” are galaxies apart, kinda like Facebook and The Facebook. Throughout the film, doors — which look like transdimensional portals but don’t do anything — are used as a motif suggesting the division between these worlds. When he visits his father in the hospital, Michael’s face is partially obscured by a door, indicating his dual nature as he transitions from a family man to a man of the family business. During the wedding, Sonny has human intercourse with a woman against a door, while on the other side, Tom Hagen tells him to stop procrastinating and get back to doing mob stuff.
In the final shots of the movie, the door is shut on Kay after Michael lies to her about Carlo’s death. Michael is fully entrenched in the Mafia, and his wife can no longer trust him.
The film is permeated with a feeling of nostalgia, an affliction suffered by human brains in an attempt to cover up the futility of human existence. The characters yearn for an older, simpler time — a time of family values. Vito Corleone refuses to do business in narcotics, despite admitting that it’s the future of the mafia, as well as politics, sports, and entertainment. This refusal to adapt is what leads to the attempt on his life. Later, when Vito dies in his garden, we see his grandson run through the frame like he don’t give a fuck. Vito’s old- school morality has expired to make way for a younger, more nihilistic, way of life.
The morality of the film is also evident through light and color. Most of the interiors of Vito’s office are shot in very stark darkness, as are his eyes, which are the windows to his face. Connie’s apartment is very brightly lit, since she’s not too busy going out on “hits” or whatever to buy some home furnishings. Whereas all the Italians wear muted colors, Kay is always wearing bright, flowery colors, suggesting that she is an outsider and also a Maxxinista. But in the final scene, Kay wears a muted beige jacket, as now the family business has become inescapable.
Speaking of colors and things that sound like colors: oranges.
Every time we see oranges, someone is about to die. Vito buys oranges right before the assassination attempt, Sonny drives by a sign promoting Florida orange juice right before he is killed, Vito dies eating an orange. Scholars have long debated the significance of the “Orange Curse,” but the prevailing wisdom is that it’s an inside joke about scurvy.
For Earthling Cinema, I’m Garyx Wormuloid. Goodnight and good luck.