Thoughts on ‘The Godfather’

Not too long ago, I watched The Godfather. I’ve always heard about the significance and cultural value of the film, so I wanted to see if it lived up to its reputation and acclaim. After I watched this film, I fell in love with the Corleone family. Any mafia-style show or film made in a similar fashion (Goodfellas or The Sopranos) had horrifically underperformed in my opinion.

The Godfather is about the Italian-American Corleone mob family. The patriarch, Don Vito Corleone leads the family mob business as its head. When he is gunned down and goes into a coma, his son Michael steps up to lead the family’s mob empire. In addition, his brother, Sonny Corleone, attempts to co-manage the business alongside his younger brother but is obviously not equipped to handle the tasks of being head of the family business.

Without wasting any time, the first five minutes depict the power and influence of Don Corleone. A funeral home owner named Amerigo Bonasera comes to him asking for retaliation for the assault against his beautiful daughter. Bonasera tried conventional ways of seeking justice through the police, but unfortunately, the criminal’s sentence was suspended. Therefore, he takes his petition to Don Corleone for justice. Don is somewhat uninterested in assisting Bonasera with his demand; He feels as though he’s been neglected all this time, but since it’s a matter of personal interest, he visits the Don for help. Eventually, Don agrees to help, but he does ask for a favor (which he ultimately gets toward the end of the film when Sonny is murdered).

In that moment of the film, I immediately saw a resemblance of God being portrayed. How often do many Christians do the same thing with God? When everything is fine, God isn’t around, but when dire times come then God is the go-to person. Like Don Corleone, God is very saddened by our irregular fellowship. He wants more than just a minimal interaction with us coming to him like a magic lamp but instead wants to enjoy the joyous and heart-wrenching times with us.

This scene got me wanting to observe Don Corleone more because he is quite an interesting character. Throughout the film, there are numerous references to his control over police, judges, city leaders, and politicians. His authority over them allowed his business to prosper without any legal interference. As a result, he had the entire justice system in his power. Since Don is the foundation and head of the Corleone family, his position is much like God resembling his sovereignty over the nations.

The Corleone children have their special privileges in the family. Think back to the Old Testament and the special title of birthright privilege. The birthright status was awarded to the oldest son that eventually was awarded special authority, and power in the family. With that said, there is a clear distinction between Sonny, the oldest, and Michael Corleone, younger brother. It seems the Jacob and Esau switching of the birthright happened! The father seems to see pass Sonny’s irresponsible business acumen. It’s pretty clear by Sonny’s moves that he wants to assume the honorary title and power of his father, but the favored son, Michael, seems to yield the true power of his father. When Don Corleone is in the hospital due to a murder attempt, Michael rises to execute the duties of being the head of the family mob business. Michael finds ways to advance business interests and negotiate with other mafia heads better than his brother Sonny. This clearly shows that although Sonny was the oldest, the privilege prosperous status belonged to Michael.

The special father and son relationship between Don and Michael somewhat shadows the Trinitarian relationship that exists between the Father and Son. For example, during his daughter’s wedding during the first 20 or so minutes of the film, the Corleone family is about to take a photo. However, Michael isn’t present yet, so Don refuses to take the photo until he arrives. When Michael finally shows, his father is enthused. Also, after being in a state of recovery for some time, Don awakens to discover mixes results of his empire. His first words after hearing seemingly bad news about the business are “Where’s Michael?” After some time adjusting to post-coma life, Don eventually relinquishes his power to Michael and brings to fruition their Trinitarian relationship even more. One scene in the film Don says, “Michael is in charge of the family and if he gives you permission then you have my blessing.” Just as the Father gave all authority in heaven and earth to the Son, Don transfers the powerful Corleone empire to his son whom he loves and trusts to operate just as he did. Michael is the son whom the father is well pleased with.

The most memorable pop culture phrase from the film is by far “Make him an offer he can’t refuse.” This line usually was used to coerce unwilling negotiators to accept a deal or die. This line clearly reminds me of the gospel. You would think that Jesus Christ, being God in the flesh, wouldn’t make an offer as good as eternal life to be refused, but he did. Out of love he wants us to fully accept his offer, not a coerced decision.

Think back to Blaise Pascal and his Wager Argument for believing in God. He clearly created a rational approach to why one should have faith in God. By doing so, he thereby displayed having faith in Jesus Christ is the greatest most important option one could make. You’re either for him or against him, there’s no in-between. But the gospel invitation is one that runs contrary to our society. A lot of people think having a savior is unnecessary when there’s nothing they should be saved from. But when the gospel reveals to a sinner that they’re in a state of separation from God and need reconciliation through Jesus Christ, the offer should become irresistible. However, some don’t accept Jesus’ offer and ultimately refuse his divine aid.

In sum, The Godfather is a superb film for its deep Christian themes and is an all-around great crime drama much like Casino or Heat. The film has many connections to Christianity, but these four mainly stood out as deep reminders of the ancient faith I possess. If you haven’t seen the film, I recommend you do.

Follow me on Twitter @Menny_Thoughts

Image: Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

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