Lost in the Movies: The Corruption of Michael Corleone

The Corruption of Michael Corleone

The story of Michael Corleone, from childhood to his ascension as "Godfather"

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Tony Dayoub said...

How did I know this was the film you were alluding to the other day? Of course, except for the pre-wedding captures, you totally leave out my favorite movie (not just in the saga, but in all of American cinema) THE GODFATHER PART II. Hope you revisit that one in the future, too.

Stephen said...


I like these kinds of posts, and this one is really good. The rise, fall and redemption is very much like the life-path of Anakin Skywaler, your last subject.

The images say it all about the film and your choice of images say it all about your understanding of it - the crucial moments.

Unknown said...

Bravo! I think you may have actually outdone yourself on this one. I enjoyed this one even more than the Luke Skywalker one you did awhile back. In many respects, THE GODFATHER films are one big epic tragedy and its center is the character of Michael, who goes from a young man full of possibilities to having the power and responsibility of his family thrust on him due to tragedy and eventually it transforms him into some who is cold and dead inside, able to kill his own brother for taking sides against the family. Talk about absolute power corrupting!

Loved the images you picked for this.

Joel Bocko said...

Tony, Godfather II is my favorite too. Originally I was going to include it...but I admit I ran out of time! Still, I could have delayed the post, I chose to go ahead with it because I felt this story was complete in and of itself. Still, I may revisit and may even revise this post to include those caps if I feel they integrate well (I'd consider Godfather III too if I wanted to do the Star Warsesque "complete saga" thing, in a lot of ways that one is extraneous but it does pack a wallop in its concluding, tragic moment).

True, Stephen in this case though the redemption (I assume you're referring to Part III) is questionable - repentence perhaps but not really a full redemption. Ironically, despite the explicit Greek connotations of Lucas' prequels and the Catholic trappings of Coppola's world, I think it's actually Star Wars which is "Christian" in its sense of evil completely redeemed, and a turn to the dark side ultimately due to free will, whereas the Godfathers are more Greek in their sense of inevitability (Michael's descent seems almost foreordained, an inescapable legacy) and doom which cannot be avoided. And, obviously, it's ultimately more tragic as well.

J.D., thanks - Willis' photography is remarkable (I worried about the images being too dark to "read" on a blog but he always seems to find a point of light within the darkness something to set the shadows in relief) and obviously Coppola's mise-en-scene is masterful (and grew far more so in the sequel where the freaked-out young director over his head now fully had his bearings). But the real strength of these caps lies in Pacino's performance, and of course the story it inhabits (Puzo's pulp re-realized by himself and Coppola as the stuff of elegiac grandeur). I watched these movies religious at a certain point in my life, to the point where I couldn't even "see" them for a while (just as with Star Wars) - I'd put them on and my mind would go blank as I spoke the lines along with the actors! I had to give it a break but now I can appreciate their power again. So it fits that this is the second character post after Star Wars - these two sagas are probably the films I've been most obsessed with in my life.

Stephen said...


Good point about Star Wars' Christian influence compared to the Godfather's Greek Tragedy.

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