Orange Juice (The Godfather)

Orange Juice (The Godfather)

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**Orange Juice**

Contrast and Irony…

Gentle moments in the story keep it realistic while the larger plot progresses and sucks us in. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction- The Godfather will make sure. Not a killer by his definition, The Godfather does not mix family and business matters, yet family and crime abound. And justice prevails however it may.

Transitions in the montage after Michael killed two of his first marks in the restaurant explain exactly how the “family” works. One scene shows a family member playing the piano, then cuts artfully to another of a dead body. The piano player still playing directly above the body. A spectacular illustration of how the family mastered the art of playing others.

The opening line: “I believe in America” (spoken by the undertaker, no less)-contrasted later in the film by another scene in which one of the family appears to be peeing on the Statue of Liberty, seen in the distance. So much for believing in America after all.

The feel of viewing the world through dark sunglasses on an already cloudy day versus the bright, relaxed feeling of the Sicilian scenes creates even more contrast and confusion. The characters hidden from the viewer’s eye in the United States, while Michael hides in Sicily. Images of these scenes prevail in viewers minds, taking us to a happier time and place while we wonder what the Corleone family has up their sleeves in America.

The Godfather grants favors- as a self-benefit of course- because the favors control those whom that they are meant for. Corleone has granted favors, but those who have received them will be in his debt and one day, they're afraid, they will be called upon to make-good the favor of the Godfather.

Crime merely illustrates the degree of power this family holds. Don Corleone can make it happen- with “offers that can not be refused”. People are killed just to show who is boss. Even the raspy voice in which the Godfather grants the favors lends to a colossal sense of power, as does his sharply shaped, well-manicured mustache. Michael’s injury transitions his speech and he begins to speak like his father- his power becomes obvious.
At the baptism of Connie and Carlo’s son, the film cuts to show the murders Michael has ordered. The patriarchs of the “five families”. The final montage artfully suggests that the murders and baptism occur simultaneously.

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The church ceremony-subdued, quiet, and Godly- a stark contrast against the bloody images in between. The perfect mix of family and business- only family and business should not be mixed… “Seemless transitions between good and evil.” (Rhodes)

The REAL issues- family, religion, love, food and music

Family The Godfather style: a bond of blood- but not connections by their blood, but the blood of someone else. Also explained as: The Corleone Family=The Corleone Mafia. Members are either “in” or “out” of this family. “Out” of the family usually means death- there are no second chances in this family. The family demands respect- from within and beyond.

During the typical Catholic baptism, godparents must respond to questions such as “Do you reject the glamour of evil?” and “Do you reject Satan” by responding “I do.” Of course Michael answers these questions seriously and confidently- thus declaring him the godfather. The murders that he requested declare him The Godfather.

Poor Kay. Her husband-married before, a mafia boss, and liar. Lies envelop the sweet, naïve schoolteacher until she does not know what to believe. What she does know at the beginning becomes evident in the end: she must stay in the family or face more dire circumstances. Kay may realize this in the end- as she begins to questions Michael’s motives. The old Godfather has aspirations of Michael becoming someone of legitimate power. Someone in a forceful position such as a lawyer, politician or otherwise. Tragic circumstances will change his mind and destiny. Baby steps at a time, like a Greek tragedy, he will acquire the darkest characteristics of his past until the final scene where Kay stares back in horror at him as she finally realizes what her husband has become.

If one is not a film critic “godfather’ may inflict thoughts of the popular pizza chain. Ironic, because references to food abound in The Godfather. “Leave the gun. Take the cannolis.” The Godfather gives Michael a lesson on cooking pasta, as one of his lessons to becoming The Godfather. Deaths occur at restaurants, at the market, after meals. Oranges even foreshadow death (or near death circumstances). Vito’s brush with death follows the purchase of oranges at the market. At the end Don Vito makes a funny face with an orange peel, scares his grandchild, and then poof- he dies. Each death like a juiced orange squeezed of life’s juices, and left to rot while someone else uses the good part.

Imagine The Godfather without the depressing trumpet that heightens the mood, and depresses the viewer. The trumpet solos throughout act as a prelude to murder, predicting the future. The beginning trumpet sets the scene for the whole movie. Without the ominous sound effect, one would be left hanging, using only oranges as compasses to determine who will die. Overtones such as this abound in this film, drawing the viewer into the scene with no where to go.
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