Virgin Viewing: ‘The Godfather’
I love pop culture, but my favorite medium is definitely TV. If there were an entire 24/7 Simpsons rerun channel, I might never leave my apartment. But there's a dark side to my obsessive television watching: it means I have missed out on a whole lot of movies, including some of the most famous flicks in history. Each week, I'll be watching a different classic film that has previously escaped me and writing a review here on Crushable. First up? The Godfather. Apparently it was a spinoff of The Sopranos or something?
[Note: the following review is full of spoilers. But that probably doesn't matter, since I was evidently the only person in America over the age of seven who hadn't seen this film. And off we go.]
Here's the problem with watching classic movies after you've seen modern movies and TV shows that reference them: the original starts to look like a knockoff. That happened to me several times during The Godfather: I knew the horse's head moment was coming because Jedidiah Springfield episode of The Simpsons. (Granted, it was a lot bloodier than I thought it would be, but the surprise factor was nonexistent.) Also, I knew exactly how Apollonia would meet her end because of the Antonia/Dylan storyline on Beverly Hills, 90210. I spent most of the movie trying to figure out which younger versions of famous actors were in the movie. Holy shit, who knew James Caan was so hot back in the day? I guess this explains why Scott Caan is hot, huh? And if I hadn't already heard that Diane Keaton played Michael's wife, it would have taken me the entire film to figure out who she was.
The word “guinea” was thrown around as an anti-Italian epithet several times at the beginning of the movie. Until two weeks ago, when that very word was bleeped out of an episode of Jersey Shore – where it was being used casually by Italian-Americans – I didn't even know what the word “guinea” meant. I have to admit that seeing Jenni, Snooki, and Vinny throw it around as a T-shirt descriptor weakened its use in the movie for me. Its use in The Godfather was intended to show the prejudice that the Italian-American community experienced, and its effect was diminished for me.
The character I found myself caring about the most? Connie, the sister whose wedding sets up the film but whose name isn't even mentioned until halfway through. Sonny gets killed on the way to rescue her from her abusive husband, but what happens after that? She's an afterthought, and the only purposes she serves are to further along her brothers' and father's storylines. The wayward mafia princess is the one I care about the most, but, in a movie that's all about power and virility she's relegated to a peripheral role in her own life. Even when she (understandably) flips out on Michael at the end of the movie, she's treated like a crazy relation who needs to be locked up in the attic for her own good. Her son's christening and husband's death aren't there to serve her story – they're there to serve Michael's, and to illustrate Michael's descent from “civilian” to don. Maybe she gets some love in the second movie? I'll have to watch that one too. But don't worry – Lorelai Gilmore has already scared me off of watching the third one.