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Godfather trilogy: idealistic depiction of the mafia?

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  • Godfather trilogy: idealistic depiction of the mafia?

    I recently watched the Godfather Trilogy with Coppola's directors commentary. It's invaluable however it left me with the impression that a lot was improvised on the set and people decades since have extensively over-analyzed the themes of the film, including putting those that aren't there. Coppola was just 30 when he directed Godfather I and a bit older with he did II. Godfather III was a mess of sorts (with Coppola aware of it) however, it was thematically ambitious and fell very short of the mark. I and II were developed along the lines of intriguing themes however the detail and depth of his personal vision wasn't as much as people may think.


    Also striking is the difference between the tone and characterization of the film and say, Goodfellas (1990), Gotti (1996), and the Sopronos vs the Mafia in the Godfather I and II . An Italian -American interest group had to OK the script for Godfather I for anti-racism purposes.

    The mobsters in the Godfather I and II are much more emphatic (eg. You have Tom Hagen and Michael Coreleone as being college educated, cerebral men and Don Vito being presented as 95% a hero) than the mobsters of later films and shows. They don't even say much in terms of profanity and could be ordinary italian-american people rather than the over-the top thugs that have become the staple of the genre.
    Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
    Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
    Barbarossa Derailed I & II
    Battle of Kalinin October 1941

  • #2
    The Godfather series made it a lot more glamorous than it should be. Casino is the more accurate Mafia movie.
    Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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    • #3
      I did hear a broadcast by an academic criminologist that said the Mafia loved Godfather I and some even began adopting some of the phraseology invented for the original novel. Apparently earlier Damon Runyon's short stories had the same impact on organised crime in New York. Life imitating Art - more than somewhat.
      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by MarkV View Post
        I did hear a broadcast by an academic criminologist that said the Mafia loved Godfather I and some even began adopting some of the phraseology invented for the original novel. Apparently earlier Damon Runyon's short stories had the same impact on organised crime in New York. Life imitating Art - more than somewhat.
        Supposedly Saddam Hussein liked Godfather as well

        Related to the OP, it is notable to see the shift towards a more "Joe Pesci" type of "vulgar" gangster.

        De Niro's acting for the young Vito was very different from his later acting for other gangster roles. Young Vito is almost like a Robin-Hood like figure, astute, principled, and suave.
        Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
        Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
        Barbarossa Derailed I & II
        Battle of Kalinin October 1941

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
          The Godfather series made it a lot more glamorous than it should be. Casino is the more accurate Mafia movie.
          The later characterizations of the Mafia (especially in the 1990s onward) always rubbed me the wrong way somehow. Really over the top, like every other mob man had a serious anger problem and all were openly (rather than secretly or subtly) sociopaths and psychopaths. Also, badly overweight and tackily dressed up.

          The people of the Godfather on the other hand, were almost too legitimate, nearly approaching the Kennedys' . Coppola says that he thought of the Kennedy compound when he was making Godfather I.
          Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
          Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
          Barbarossa Derailed I & II
          Battle of Kalinin October 1941

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post

            The later characterizations of the Mafia (especially in the 1990s onward) always rubbed me the wrong way somehow. Really over the top, like every other mob man had a serious anger problem and all were openly (rather than secretly or subtly) sociopaths and psychopaths. Also, badly overweight and tackily dressed up.

            The people of the Godfather on the other hand, were almost too legitimate, nearly approaching the Kennedys' . Coppola says that he thought of the Kennedy compound when he was making Godfather I.
            But their actions in Casino were historically accurate, such as the cornfield scene and the Feds getting their big break through a wire.

            I felt the later depictions were much more accurate; thugs are thugs. I never liked the Godfather series because it made heroes out of murderers.
            Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

            Comment


            • #7
              truth being somewhere in the middle of these depictions. I'm not a mafia scholar so I don't know.
              Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
              Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
              Barbarossa Derailed I & II
              Battle of Kalinin October 1941

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                truth being somewhere in the middle of these depictions. I'm not a mafia scholar so I don't know.
                Actually, no, the truth is as depicted. Casino was based on clear fact.

                But I do agree that you certainly don't know.
                Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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                • #9
                  are you a mafia scholar? I question the stuff in the mafia movies; they aren't historical reenactments.

                  In the Coppola commentary, he maintains that a major goal was authenticity; while he was precise in the props and set design he didn't emphasize the design of the characters. He did not interview and study real Mafia men and of the cast, he singled out only James Caan (Sonny) to have done so.

                  Of the Italian actors, they brought their own interpretations to their characters with Coppola having a more supervisory role. He comments that he did not have to do much work with them except hire them. The character of Don Fanucci was largely from the veteran actor himself.

                  The issue is that the over the top nature is of an extent of later works is that these people would not be able to function in real life if they were so hyper-violent and animalistic. It's good entertainment but I doubt that these people would last so long in the real world with their motives so readily in display.
                  Last edited by Cult Icon; 02 Nov 18, 09:41.
                  Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                  Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                  Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                  Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                    are you a mafia scholar? I question the stuff in the mafia movies; they aren't historical reenactments.
                    Yes. Casino was drawn from actual court cases. As I've already noted, the confield scene was literally taken step-by-step from transcripts.

                    Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                    In the Coppola commentary, he maintains that a major goal was authenticity; while he was precise in the props and set design he didn't emphasize the design of the characters. He did not interview and study real Mafia men and of the cast, he singled out only James Caan (Sonny) to have done so.
                    If he said that, he lied. The mafia of that period is very well documented.

                    Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                    The issue is that the over the top nature is of an extent of later works is that these people would not be able to function in real life if they were so hyper-violent and animalistic. It's good entertainment but I doubt that these people would last so long in the real world with their motives so readily in display.
                    Have you bothered to look at any court cases? How about Whitey, lately and unlamentedly deceased? Sammy the Bull?
                    Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm thinking more about the social skills, the mannerisms...

                      I have heard that the italian mob has a mentality that they are "not so bad" and doing society a service by providing things that they need anyway (drugs, women, gambling)

                      eg. the loony Joe Pesci as a "made man". Someone who is a Capo should have the skills and the personality of someone who is a survivor and has craftiness
                      Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                      Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                      Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                      Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                        I'm thinking more about the social skills, the mannerisms...

                        I have heard that the italian mob has a mentality that they are "not so bad" and doing society a service by providing things that they need anyway (drugs, women, gambling)

                        eg. the loony Joe Pesci as a "made man". Someone who is a Capo should have the skills and the personality of someone who is a survivor and has craftiness
                        You do realize that John Gotti, the 'Dapper Don', was convicted of five murders? That the reason the Feds bagged him is that be was bad-mouthing his under-boss Sammy 'The Bull' on the phone and bragging about murders they had together? The Feds played the recordings for Sammy, who then wrecked the entire family and confessed to nearly 40 murders because he was angry over what Gotti said?

                        Pesci did a good job, as did Depp playing Whitey. They were sociopaths.

                        Your view is incredibly naive.

                        Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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                        • #13
                          Why bother commenting at all if it's going to be another insult war? Frankly, Rimmer, your opinions are of no more value here than anyone else's. You just think you're a legend in your own mind.

                          The GF Trilogy is an incredibly entertaining cinematic accomplishment and remains entertaining decades after it came out. It has achieved the status of a classic, not easy to do these days in a cinematic industry based on comic books and microsecond attention spans.
                          Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                            Why bother commenting at all if it's going to be another insult war? Frankly, Rimmer, your opinions are of no more value here than anyone else's. You just think you're a legend in your own mind.

                            The GF Trilogy is an incredibly entertaining cinematic accomplishment and remains entertaining decades after it came out. It has achieved the status of a classic, not easy to do these days in a cinematic industry based on comic books and microsecond attention spans.
                            This from the most obnoxious, self-centered poster here?

                            I envy Cult his nativity. He lives in a happier world.
                            Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Knock it off with the personal commentaries.

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