ACF#22: Godfather Part II

 

Today, John Presnall and I complete our discussion of The Godfather. We look at how Part II reverses the structure of the original–we move from a young Michael and adult Vito to the reverse. Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola thus complete the portrayals of the two generations. Then we also discuss the all-American story of the immigrant Corleone family, of making it in New York, moving out West, and going international in Cuba. The Corleones rehearse American history and this changes the non-American Sicilian principle of “True Friendship” Vito tries to adapt to the New World.

Next week, we’ll be publishing our discussion of The Godfather: Part III, the necessary tragic conclusion of the trilogy, and also the confrontation of Old World and New World within the Corleone family and enterprise. It’s a great movie, to be sure, and you’re in for a treat, but it is a movie apart, with no structural relation to the previous two. More on that next week.

Of course, I have also interviewed Prof. Paul Rahe for the Middlebrow series of the podcast, on The Godfather, and he brings the historian’s and student of political philosophy’s perspective to the ancient politics of the Corleones and the modern politics of America.

And in our Critic series, after the first interview with the counter-cultural conservative critic Armond White, which was very well received, I’m happy to say, we will follow up early next week with another interview with Armond White! We will discuss his Better Than list, a tradition of over a dozen years now, showcasing movies that deserve more attention than the favorites of the strangely liberal cultural press.

As always, please share our podcast, rate and review it on iTunes, and join the conversation here on Ricochet!

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  1. Curt North Inactive
    Curt North
    @CurtNorth

    This is a great American movie and I can’t wait to listen to the discussion on it.  Thanks Titus!

    • #1
  2. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Glad to see the enthusiasm. I hope you’ll enjoy our conversation & that our insights get a good batting average.

    Here’s the link to the previous one.

    Third one, next Friday!

    • #2
  3. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Interesting that you say Godfather III is a great movie too. Most people treat it as a redheaded, left-handed, stepchild (i.e. like dirt, possibly evil dirt).

    Admittedly it’s hard for me to view it as good let alone great like part 1 and part 2. Partly, it’s the quality in comparison to the first two. Pacino is the Scent of a Woman spiky haired no voice modulation Pacino. Sophia Coppola is a wet noodle, especially in comparison to Andy Garcia’s natural charisma and presence. Joe Mantegna, while one of my favorite hometown Chicago guys, comes off to me as a cardboard cutout of a mobster (even considering he’s supposed to be a two bit modern mobster trying to playact an Italian mob that isn’t anywhere near the same as it was just decades earlier). I’ve never liked Diane Keaton as an actress; so I can’t judge her performance without bias. The plot with the Vatican is… not very interesting or dramatic.

    But it occurs to me that some of my disappointment, perhaps most of my disappointment, isn’t with the acting or the plot. It’s with the truths the movie is depicting. These truths aren’t hopeful but tragic. Ultimately they aren’t even tragic; with enough time it’s all meaningless as our connections to life move on or die away, as new people and new times have their own struggles and stories to which you (me, us) have no connection. And we’re left at the end rotting away – alone – in our courtyard rehashing the past and despairing of any future.

    • #3
  4. Curt North Inactive
    Curt North
    @CurtNorth

    I already listened to the first Godfather podcast.  I thought you guys did an excellent job discussing the movie, that’s why I’m looking forward to this one :)

    • #4
  5. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Titus from this podcast: “you don’t get to murder people… you’re not above the law”

    Kay: You know how naive you sound? Senators and presidents don’t have men killed.

    Michael: Who’s being naive Kay?

    • #5
  6. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Part of the allure of Vito is that he never embarked on this as ambition to replace Fanucci or to become teh next don. He appears to be driven, at all stages, by a desire for complete freedom – not hanging on the end of someone else’s string, but instead having total agency and choice to live as he saw fit. And how did he want to live? Loving and providing for his family. He could have been a shop owner or even just a clerk – but he saw that’s not how things work even here in America. There is no freedom unless you are the one holding the strings. And that works for a little while and in limited context (even in Sicily it doesn’t work as we find out that all the men are dead from never ending knot of vendettas). What Michael comes to find out, though, is that 1) there’s always another string to get ahold of, and 2) there are some strings no one can control, and 3) gaining control isn’t satisfying and is ultimately destruction.

    The third point is explored by the Great Gatsby to no better answer, in fact to no real answer at all. Striving is fulfilling and exciting, full of purpose. However, one can’t remain in perpetual suspense, and striving turns into toiling and pointless drudgery. What then? Pointless strivers end up like the garage owner dwindling away to nothing in sickness and heartache, or ditch all goals and become the perpetual rich who find a way to live with meaningless consumption of all in their path. Or, the goal is attained, consumed, and leaving nothing but a husk to decompose. Or, having captured the goal it vanishes into nothing because it was always only an idea and nothing solid or lasting.

    And God looks on, neither helping nor hindering. What is the purpose of all this churning? Honestly, even as a practicing Catholic, I can’t answer this question satisfactorily. Godfather 2 and the Great Gatsby, along with other great works, consider these questions poignantly and entertainingly and expertly. Experiencing these works makes me feel like Buck at the end of The Call of the Wild having no better response to it all than to howl mournfully just like all of his ancestors before him.

    • #6
  7. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    I should have started with this: good podcast fellas.

    • #7
  8. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Ed G. (View Comment):
    Titus from this podcast: “you don’t get to murder people… you’re not above the law”

    Kay: You know how naive you sound? Senators and presidents don’t have men killed.

    Michael: Who’s being naive Kay?

    Sure. But whether you take a naive or a sophisticated view, the Sicilian way & the American way are different. It’s not that one’s hell, the other heaven–but the scope of law is different. One’s based on equality under the law, the other is not.

    So the proof of that is the sophisticated truth of the naive view: No American Senator or President dares brag about murder or seeks a reputation as a killer. Politics is ultimately about what we dare do in public-

    • #8
  9. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Ed G. (View Comment):
    Titus from this podcast: “you don’t get to murder people… you’re not above the law”

    Kay: You know how naive you sound? Senators and presidents don’t have men killed.

    Michael: Who’s being naive Kay?

    Sure. But whether you take a naive or a sophisticated view, the Sicilian way & the American way are different. It’s not that one’s hell, the other heaven–but the scope of law is different. One’s based on equality under the law, the other is not.

    So the proof of that is the sophisticated truth of the naive view: No American Senator or President dares brag about murder or seeks a reputation as a killer. Politics is ultimately about what we dare do in public-

    In some sense I agree that there is a difference. But the Godfather trilogy tells us that there is no substantive difference, only cosmetic or aesthetic difference. In all contexts people are striving to hold the strings; in all contexts that is achieved by violence, ultimately, often outside of the ostensible law in effect for the little people.

    • #9
  10. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Ed G. (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Ed G. (View Comment):
    Titus from this podcast: “you don’t get to murder people… you’re not above the law”

    Kay: You know how naive you sound? Senators and presidents don’t have men killed.

    Michael: Who’s being naive Kay?

    Sure. But whether you take a naive or a sophisticated view, the Sicilian way & the American way are different. It’s not that one’s hell, the other heaven–but the scope of law is different. One’s based on equality under the law, the other is not.

    So the proof of that is the sophisticated truth of the naive view: No American Senator or President dares brag about murder or seeks a reputation as a killer. Politics is ultimately about what we dare do in public-

    In some sense I agree that there is a difference. But the Godfather trilogy tells us that there is no substantive difference, only cosmetic or aesthetic difference. In all contexts people are striving to hold the strings; in all contexts that is achieved by violence, ultimately, often outside of the ostensible law in effect for the little people.

    I think you’re wrong: The movies show us that people who think to run politics on human sacrifices end up tragically.

    • #10
  11. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Ed G. (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Ed G. (View Comment):
    Titus from this podcast: “you don’t get to murder people… you’re not above the law”

    Kay: You know how naive you sound? Senators and presidents don’t have men killed.

    Michael: Who’s being naive Kay?

    Sure. But whether you take a naive or a sophisticated view, the Sicilian way & the American way are different. It’s not that one’s hell, the other heaven–but the scope of law is different. One’s based on equality under the law, the other is not.

    So the proof of that is the sophisticated truth of the naive view: No American Senator or President dares brag about murder or seeks a reputation as a killer. Politics is ultimately about what we dare do in public-

    In some sense I agree that there is a difference. But the Godfather trilogy tells us that there is no substantive difference, only cosmetic or aesthetic difference. In all contexts people are striving to hold the strings; in all contexts that is achieved by violence, ultimately, often outside of the ostensible law in effect for the little people.

    I think you’re wrong: The movies show us that people who think to run politics on human sacrifices end up tragically.

    Sure, they do end up tragically. But perhaps only marginally less/more tragic than everyone else. Are we better off as the sheep or the wolf? In the end they’re both dead after a life of struggle and varying degrees of joy and pain.

    • #11
  12. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Ed G. (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Ed G. (View Comment):
    Titus from this podcast: “you don’t get to murder people… you’re not above the law”

    Kay: You know how naive you sound? Senators and presidents don’t have men killed.

    Michael: Who’s being naive Kay?

    Sure. But whether you take a naive or a sophisticated view, the Sicilian way & the American way are different. It’s not that one’s hell, the other heaven–but the scope of law is different. One’s based on equality under the law, the other is not.

    So the proof of that is the sophisticated truth of the naive view: No American Senator or President dares brag about murder or seeks a reputation as a killer. Politics is ultimately about what we dare do in public-

    In some sense I agree that there is a difference. But the Godfather trilogy tells us that there is no substantive difference, only cosmetic or aesthetic difference. In all contexts people are striving to hold the strings; in all contexts that is achieved by violence, ultimately, often outside of the ostensible law in effect for the little people.

    I think you’re wrong: The movies show us that people who think to run politics on human sacrifices end up tragically.

    I think the movies show us that any chance at freedom is only possible through power and power is based on holding the strings and holding the strings is only achieved through violence and sacrifice (even in America). But that freedom is just as illusory as faith in law and order and logic and justice. It all fails in this life. There is no way around the dichotomy, no answer to the search for meaning, no inoculation to pain and suffering.

    • #12
  13. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Ed G. (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Ed G. (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Ed G. (View Comment):
    Titus from this podcast: “you don’t get to murder people… you’re not above the law”

    Kay: You know how naive you sound? Senators and presidents don’t have men killed.

    Michael: Who’s being naive Kay?

    Sure. But whether you take a naive or a sophisticated view, the Sicilian way & the American way are different. It’s not that one’s hell, the other heaven–but the scope of law is different. One’s based on equality under the law, the other is not.

    So the proof of that is the sophisticated truth of the naive view: No American Senator or President dares brag about murder or seeks a reputation as a killer. Politics is ultimately about what we dare do in public-

    In some sense I agree that there is a difference. But the Godfather trilogy tells us that there is no substantive difference, only cosmetic or aesthetic difference. In all contexts people are striving to hold the strings; in all contexts that is achieved by violence, ultimately, often outside of the ostensible law in effect for the little people.

    I think you’re wrong: The movies show us that people who think to run politics on human sacrifices end up tragically.

    Sure, they do end up tragically. But perhaps only marginally less/more tragic than everyone else. Are we better off as the sheep or the wolf? In the end they’re both dead after a life of struggle and varying degrees of joy and pain.

    Most people have an agreement on the good life: Comfort in the midst of family. Both Vito & Michael see their families in danger, family members dead, & are murdered themselves.

    That’s not the fate of most Americans. Probably, you should start from that distinction…

    • #13
  14. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Ed G. (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Ed G. (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Ed G. (View Comment):
    Titus from this podcast: “you don’t get to murder people… you’re not above the law”

    Kay: You know how naive you sound? Senators and presidents don’t have men killed.

    Michael: Who’s being naive Kay?

    Sure. But whether you take a naive or a sophisticated view, the Sicilian way & the American way are different. It’s not that one’s hell, the other heaven–but the scope of law is different. One’s based on equality under the law, the other is not.

    So the proof of that is the sophisticated truth of the naive view: No American Senator or President dares brag about murder or seeks a reputation as a killer. Politics is ultimately about what we dare do in public-

    In some sense I agree that there is a difference. But the Godfather trilogy tells us that there is no substantive difference, only cosmetic or aesthetic difference. In all contexts people are striving to hold the strings; in all contexts that is achieved by violence, ultimately, often outside of the ostensible law in effect for the little people.

    I think you’re wrong: The movies show us that people who think to run politics on human sacrifices end up tragically.

    Sure, they do end up tragically. But perhaps only marginally less/more tragic than everyone else. Are we better off as the sheep or the wolf? In the end they’re both dead after a life of struggle and varying degrees of joy and pain.

    Most people have an agreement on the good life: Comfort in the midst of family. Both Vito & Michael see their families in danger, family members dead, & are murdered themselves.

    That’s not the fate of most Americans. Probably, you should start from that distinction…

    True enough, I suppose. Don’t you think, though, that this is more or less true depending on the wolf/bear/mountain lion population?

    Also, we sheep are probably not going to experience being eaten by a wolf, but that’s only because we actively hunt the wolves (or we used to – now we’re creating preserves for them).

    Last, normal people certainly do face joy and pain; we don’t have the kind of freedom Vito and Michael were seeking (and that’s ok with me); we certainly do face death and murder. Vito’s approach to life is a reasonable and attractive one too – otherwise this wouldn’t be such a powerful story. Michael’s fate is a caution, but in a world where we are losing our families anyway (see birth rate outside of marriage) and people still struggle to make and keep connections, is Michael’s result anything we can prevent any more than he could?

    • #14
  15. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I think you’re right to a large extent, but you look at things from a strangely skewed perspective. So I recommend listening to the first podcast as well, where I talk about the problem with the modern principle Sollozzo & Michael represent & embody.

    Freedom ends up meaning bowing to necessity; I point this out in the second one, too: Economics is supposed to replace politics. Win-win is the preferred way of the future.

    Well, that removes all freedom & all choice.

    That’s the theoretical problem with what we’re all sensing is a dreadful way to end.

    So freedom has got to be reexamined–it cannot be about suffering no injustice or deprivation. Inasmuch as that could be become the purpose of organization, we see it play out to the bitter end.

    • #15
  16. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    I think you’re right to a large extent, but you look at things from a strangely skewed perspective. So I recommend listening to the first podcast as well, where I talk about the problem with the modern principle Sollozzo & Michael represent & embody.

    Freedom ends up meaning bowing to necessity; I point this out in the second one, too: Economics is supposed to replace politics. Win-win is the preferred way of the future.

    Well, that removes all freedom & all choice.

    That’s the theoretical problem with what we’re all sensing is a dreadful way to end.

    So freedom has got to be reexamined–it cannot be about suffering no injustice or deprivation. Inasmuch as that could be become the purpose of organization, we see it play out to the bitter end.

    Honestly I don’t understand what you find strange or skewed about my perspective. I’m not arguing that freedom is about being free from injustice or deprivation. I’m saying that both of these systems – Vito’s way and America’s way – purport to offer freedom; freedom from being on the end of someone else’s string; freedom to live without being directed by others for the benefit of others. They approach the pursuit differently, but both ultimately fail amidst violence and injustice and loss. The American way fails because there are always people willing to do violence and injustice to get what they want, to get what you have, and we are vulnerable to that unless we are strong enough to protect ourselves. Vito’s way fails (eventually, for Michael) because tightening the grip tends to destroy the things around you that you cherish and want to protect, leaving only power for power’s sake. They both fail because there is no getting around the constraint of necessity and there is no getting around the imperfection of humanity and this world. I agree that freedom cannot be about suffering no injustice or deprivation. But we can get close to autonomy – our choices being our own rather than the result of the choices of others. Is getting close temporarily better than being herded long term?

    • #16
  17. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I feel we’re talking without clarity here. I see a big difference between the personal & political questions.

    First, there’s a political question. Vito is a Godfather, a ruler who offers personal justice & protection–but certainly not freedom. He says he gives justice as a favor, but might come asking for a favor in return, which one would not be in a position to refuse… Freedom would only mean, being ruled by one of your own, in a broad sense.

    The American way is different–individual rights, equality under the law, & contract. As individualistic as the other one is family-based.

    I don’t see how these differences could be papered over.

    Secondly, there is a personal question. You seem to be invested in figuring out what it means for one’s choices to be one’s own–I’ve nothing against that, but I think you might want to consider the matter with clarity. Or maybe you disagree with my statement of the political matter.

    • #17
  18. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    I feel we’re talking without clarity here. I see a big difference between the personal & political questions.

    First, there’s a political question. Vito is a Godfather, a ruler who offers personal justice & protection–but certainly not freedom. He says he gives justice as a favor, but might come asking for a favor in return, which one would not be in a position to refuse… Freedom would only mean, being ruled by one of your own, in a broad sense.

    The American way is different–individual rights, equality under the law, & contract. As individualistic as the other one is family-based.

    I don’t see how these differences could be papered over.

    ….

    Agreed that there is political and there is personal. However, I think there is overlap in how the movie addresses this.

    I don’t say that the differences can be papered over. I say that both approaches are attractive, powerful, reasonable, and with some success – but that both approaches also fail in the long run if freedom and justice are the goals. The Roman Empire lasted for centuries; some say the American experiment really ended with Roosevelt (or Wilson, or Lincoln). A czar can be benevolent and a city council can be tyrannical. All ages under each system experiences joy and success, pain and suffering, freedom and oppression, limited agency and violence. We all die; we all lose our connection to life the same way a river is not really the same river it was two seconds ago as the water continually flows on.

    In Michael’s failing, I don’t think the movie is asserting that therefore America would succeed.

    • #18
  19. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Secondly, there is a personal question. You seem to be invested in figuring out what it means for one’s choices to be one’s own–I’ve nothing against that, but I think you might want to consider the matter with clarity. Or maybe you disagree with my statement of the political matter.

    Not just choices being one’s own, but making space to be one’s own. As I say, I think Vito would have been happy as a clerk and living with his wife and family in modesty and virtue. But that’s not the way things work even in America. He had a choice: let others put claims on his life, or make space in which no one puts claims on his life without his blessing. Once started on that second road he and Michael discover that there is always someone else, there is always someone bigger. Vito has no regrets – he died surrounded by family and prosperity in his tomato garden. Michael, on the other hand seems to having nothing but regret. How is this approach of the Corleones, either personally or politically, any different in the end from my American approach relying on law and democracy? Some prosper and some suffer no matter what. Some give orders and some take orders no matter what. Some are hurt and some protect themselves no matter what. I don’t think the movie is picking one over the other: I think it’s despairing of any answer – life is inescapable tragedy.

    • #19
  20. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I don’t see any evidence that Vito could have been happy as a clerk. He was kicked out of one job–nobody made a claim on his life. Nepotism is hardly sufficient provocation.

    Vito had his eldest son murdered, himself shot up, & his family at war with no great evidence they’ll come out of it alright.

    Either I’m misremembering the movie or you’re misstating the facts.

    • #20
  21. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    I don’t see any evidence that Vito could have been happy as a clerk. He was kicked out of one job–nobody made a claim on his life. Nepotism is hardly sufficient provocation.

    Vito had his eldest son murdered, himself shot up, & his family at war with no great evidence they’ll come out of it alright.

    Either I’m misremembering the movie or you’re misstating the facts.

    I’m not misstating. That’s my interpretation. I don’t mean that Vito wanted to literally remain a grocery store clerk. I mean that the fact he was a clerk at all instead of a natural crook like Clemenza is evidence that he wanted to live honestly and had no particular desire to steal or kill. Perhaps he started like Bona Serra believing in the American dream and in the American way. And by “putting a claim on his life” I mean being at the mercy of others, having to do what others tell you to do, being subject to power rather than love and reason. He was certainly at the mercy of Fanucci, not merely nepotism.

    At the end of Vito’s life, despite the state of affairs you describe, he seemed happy and content. He doesn’t apologize for killing and stealing, that’s his life and he did what he had to do for his family – he’s proud of it. He still had his wife, daughter, two sons (three counting Tom), grandson, a vast empire, prosperity, power. Plus, he knew that his son was taking the strings, not someone else his family would have to bow to.

    It could have been worse. They could have been living in a slum under Fanucci’s thumb, under some landlord’s thumb, under some factory supervisor’s thumb, under some politician’s thumb.

    • #21
  22. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Fanucci did nothing to him but deprive him of his job.

    Didn’t teach him to turn criminal.

    As for natural crooks like Clemenza, I’ll say in their defense: They don’t seem to turn their minds to murder.

    “Being at the mercy of others” is unfortunately a terribly vague phrase.

    I’ll point out to you that Buonasera himself sees still has his daughter, though she was beaten & maybe raped. Sonny’s dead. The family’s at war; he’s powerless; the notion that this is what he wanted to end up as doesn’t bear scrutiny. He himself admits he failed–he wanted respectability for Michael, not murder. He loses him for years while he’s away in Italy. I’m not sure why you think he feels safe.

    The Godfather, like Fanucci, at some point dared to walk the streets of his neighborhood; that was the pride of his claim to deliver justice; that’s over for him & his son.

    I disagree with you fundamentally about the character of Vito. The notion that the same man could be Godfather & a simple man living a simple legal life, peaceful & obscure, requires a lot of explaining you do not seem inclined to do.

    • #22
  23. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Fanucci did nothing to him but deprive him of his job.

    Didn’t teach him to turn criminal.

    Well then we have to disagree. Fanucci’s only power to do these things came from fear of physical reprisal. Fanucci, Clemenza, and probably a hundred other guys he knew in the neighborhood all taught him through example that holding the strings was the way to get ahead and the way to get ahold of the strings was violence when needed. Not that Vito was all criminal – he was willing to be reasonable and to trade, but only so far. He was going to hold the strings one way or another.

    • #23
  24. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Sonny’s dead. The family’s at war; he’s powerless; the notion that this is what he wanted to end up as doesn’t bear scrutiny. He himself admits he failed–he wanted respectability for Michael, not murder. He loses him for years while he’s away in Italy. I’m not sure why you think he feels safe.

    I’m not sure I said Vito feels safe. Happy and content. Satisfied with his life and proud. Despite the state of affairs you mention (which in short order is all turned around). That is not to say he is without sadness or that he doesn’t wish things were better in some ways. Yes Vito wanted respectability for Michael, but he’s also not blubbering over it – he did his best, he knows Michael will do well, and I think at some level he agrees with Michael dismissing those pezzonovante as being no different and perhaps even lesser than a respected don (all those respectable people Vito was able to put into his pocket, after all). All in all the family is together and about to reassert itself in domination. So that Michael can continue climbing the ladder to see just who holds the highest string.

    • #24
  25. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    I disagree with you fundamentally about the character of Vito. The notion that the same man could be Godfather & a simple man living a simple legal life, peaceful & obscure, requires a lot of explaining you do not seem inclined to do.

    I think I have explained. We just disagree, we interpret it differently. That’s ok.

    • #25
  26. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    There is a cut of Parts 1 and 2, where it has all been rearranged chronologically.  Have you seen that?  I thought it worked fairly well that way.

    • #26
  27. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    I disagree with you fundamentally about the character of Vito. The notion that the same man could be Godfather & a simple man living a simple legal life, peaceful & obscure, requires a lot of explaining you do not seem inclined to do.

    I think Vito himself may have agreed with Ed G.  His own justifications for his actions over the years run to, “I did the things that I had to do”.  He didn’t want to have to take orders from anyone, and in his own mind, I think he thinks that he could have been happy in the simple life, but others wouldn’t allow it.  It comes to a head when he loses his job.  He could have found another job, or become a petty crook like Clemenza, or a drunkard living on the street after his wife goes home to mother.  Instead, he goes into the crime business, and when the local boss interferes, kills him and takes over as boss.  A common set of motivations with an uncommon reaction.  But from his perspective, he didn’t set out to do those things, and he wouldn’t have if they hadn’t made him do it.

    Whether Vito’s self assessment is honest and accurate is another question altogether.

    • #27
  28. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    I disagree with you fundamentally about the character of Vito. The notion that the same man could be Godfather & a simple man living a simple legal life, peaceful & obscure, requires a lot of explaining you do not seem inclined to do.

    I think Vito himself may have agreed with Ed G. His own justifications for his actions over the years run to, “I did the things that I had to do”. He didn’t want to have to take orders from anyone, and in his own mind, I think he thinks that he could have been happy in the simple life, but others wouldn’t allow it. It comes to a head when he loses his job. He could have found another job, or become a petty crook like Clemenza, or a drunkard living on the street after his wife goes home to mother. Instead, he goes into the crime business, and when the local boss interferes, kills him and takes over as boss. A common set of motivations with an uncommon reaction. But from his perspective, he didn’t set out to do those things, and he wouldn’t have if they hadn’t made him do it.

    Whether Vito’s self assessment is honest and accurate is another question altogether.

    Yes, and there is also the fact that he was ever a store clerk to begin with. If he were truly intent on using crime to achieve his goals then we wouldn’t have seen him there. In fact, he seemed downright surprised and confused by first contact with Clemenza and Fanucci. That doesn’t sound like someone who was just itching to launch a crime career.

    Also, he wasn’t simply a thug like Fanucci or a petty thief like Clemenza.  His was a business built on doing favors for people, including violence. And why was he ok with that? Because that is how things were apparently done in America, he was doing it for the good of his family and friends, and that was going to be the only way to cut the puppet strings once he found out such strings existed.

    • #28
  29. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    I disagree with you fundamentally about the character of Vito. The notion that the same man could be Godfather & a simple man living a simple legal life, peaceful & obscure, requires a lot of explaining you do not seem inclined to do.

    I think Vito himself may have agreed with Ed G. His own justifications for his actions over the years run to, “I did the things that I had to do”. He didn’t want to have to take orders from anyone, and in his own mind, I think he thinks that he could have been happy in the simple life, but others wouldn’t allow it. It comes to a head when he loses his job. He could have found another job, or become a petty crook like Clemenza, or a drunkard living on the street after his wife goes home to mother. Instead, he goes into the crime business, and when the local boss interferes, kills him and takes over as boss. A common set of motivations with an uncommon reaction. But from his perspective, he didn’t set out to do those things, and he wouldn’t have if they hadn’t made him do it.

    Whether Vito’s self assessment is honest and accurate is another question altogether.

    Yeah, it’s a question. You could start asking it by noticing that you have to conflicting motives in wanting the simple life & wanting not to take orders from anyone.

    That man exists on screen, or nearly. He’s Jeremiah Johnson. Maybe there are more radical portrayals.

    But people do not usually think of the simple life as a form of rule, not even self-rule. I agree that the young Vito takes his principles from his community; but he applies them in a way people in the community don’t, because if they did, there’d be no community left. That’s how you get tragedy.

    So also if you had a man who wanted to be America, he’d be a tragic hero.

    If you want to rephrase these things in terms of political philosophy, Plato’s Republic teaches about the contradiction between the twin powers of members of an organization, justice & moderation. The one is the public virtue, the other the private virtue.

    This starts from a commonsense observation: You want to mind your own business. That’s a principle of moderation. What Americans might recognize as self-interest rightly understood (Tocqueville’s phrase, at any rate.)

    But moderation is private & depends on a certain arrangement whereby if everyone minds his own business, that adds up to a city, a country, and even an empire. That arrangement is public. What’s the public, from this view? Punishing people who get out of line, who either don’t mind their own business or do so in a way that creates trouble for others. Either way, they gotta be dealt with. Of course, the people who deal with punishment cannot really be said to be obeying the ‘mind your own business’ principle which guides them as to everyone else’s behavior. There’s something else in there implicit in this attempt at harmonization which is part of our commonsense understanding of the world. You have to want to apply the principle to the organization.

    You can look at it again as the distinction between order & orders. The former is at least conceivably discovered, such as in natural patterns for phenomena. The latter are given & taken, they belong to human things. They’re connected somehow, but they’re not the same thing. Men don’t quite fit in the world & therefore do not quite fit with each other.

    • #29
  30. Curt North Inactive
    Curt North
    @CurtNorth

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    There is a cut of Parts 1 and 2, where it has all been rearranged chronologically. Have you seen that? I thought it worked fairly well that way.

    Holy cow how long is THAT one?  To make it watchable they’d have to drop a LOT of footage, and these are both masterpieces (IMHO), can’t imagine a single minute missing from either movie.

    • #30
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