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The Godfather – A Film Analysis

At the start of The Godfather: Part II (directed by Francis Ford Coppola), we see a grim exchange between a corrupt politician and the head of a Sicilian Mafia family. The politician, a reputed senator, denies the Mafia Don’s request for a Vegas gambling license, saying: “I despise your masquerade, the dishonest way you pose yourself.” The Mafia Don, Michael Corleone (portrayed by Al Pacino), replies: “We’re both part of the same hypocrisy, senator.”

When we see our current socio-political climate (“current” meaning the whole of our lifetime) it is fair to conclude that Mario Puzo’s The Godfather speaks volumes about the rampant hypocrisy running deep in our society. What is hypocrisy? The Greek hypokrisis is closely connected to envy and theatrics. A common subject for the theater in ancient times was, no doubt, mythology.

The Godfather saga can be considered a modern myth—a continuation of the drama of the Greek gods—albeit with a post-Calvary dynamic. In ancient Greece, Zeus was considered the king of the gods and, therefore, the most worthy of worship. Hades, the god of the underworld, on the other hand, is mostly avoided out of fear by the masses. Zeus is the popular face of the gods, the representation of the light: the kind of savior for which people yearn. Hades is the representation of the things that, socially, are best left unsaid.

What’s best left unsaid is the mirroring of the two forces and the source of evil. The rule of Zeus is publicized—presentable. The rule of Hades is an open secret—an incrimination of Zeus. Both rule via murder, coercion, and persecution. This order of mythology is channeled in the Godfather saga. Don Vito Corleone (portrayed by Marlon Brando), Michael’s father and mentor, recognizes this and refers to the politicians, clergy, lawyers, doctors, and professors as pezzonovante: “big shots.”

It is worthwhile to observe the developing relationship between Vito Corleone and the pezzonovante. In his novel, Mario Puzo sketches a history of the Corleone family that is very much grounded in reality. Vito Corleone ascends the underworld by running bootlegging operations during the Prohibition era. During that time, he becomes enormously powerful. The politicians and lawyers see a valuable use for him seeing how black market operations can be beneficial to them. Likewise, Don Corleone pockets these respectable public faces for his own endeavors.

The modern-day relationship between Zeus and Hades is a sophisticated version of the ancient myths. Both employ violence to achieve their ends; both do so in a manner of mutual understanding. This is made all the more obvious when we notice how the Mafia structure works. The Don is at the top of the hierarchy followed by the consigliere (counselor), the caporegimes (commanders), and then the “button men,” the foot soldiers. The Don never gives an order directly to the soldier; it always comes down through the hierarchy.

The structure of our modern-day governments is more or less the same. Why are the hierarchies like this? It is precisely due to the fact that both seek to hide the source of the violence under anonymity. Thus, the sacredness of the structures is maintained. Mario Puzo hammers this point home in an interaction between Michael and his future wife Kay (portrayed by Diane Keaton).

Michael: “My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.”
Kay: “Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don’t have men killed.”
Michael: “Oh. Who’s being naive, Kay?”

Michael’s story is a tragedy for this very reason. He, like his father, has recognized the truth but he is trapped inside it like a bird in a cage. In the beginning of the story, he is, like Kay and most of us, naive about the power structures of society. In defiance of his father, he enlists in the marines and goes off to war. He comes back a war hero and chooses to marry an American girl to further his rebellion.

The scales fall away from his eyes, however, when a mob hit on his father’s life fails. In the hospital, as he races to save his wounded father from another hit, Michael realizes how corrupt the police can be, who are bought off by rival gang lords. This realization, that the life of a pezzonovante means the life of a puppet, leads to Michael killing a police captain and thus cementing his entrance into the underworld.

Things grow much bleaker over the span of two films, as we see Michael’s violent actions coming back to haunt him. With the death of his father, Michael grows more sinister and isolated after witnessing betrayal after betrayal; he trusts no one. The violence which he must employ to keep the wolves away ultimately spills into his family in unspeakable ways.

It is here that Mario Puzo’s Catholic sensibilities are noticeable. When Michael’s wife willingly commits an abortion, it is made certain to us through Kay’s very own words that her abortion is an “abomination” done to stop another child from entering Hades’ underworld of violence and death. Also, Michael’s own brother Fredo betrays him. All of this culminates in Michael having his brother assassinated; it is an event that would haunt him for the remainder of his life.

Puzo does not mythologize Hades. He certainly romanticizes some characters to a degree but never beyond belief. What Puzo does with Michael’s character is humanize him and make him relatable. How on earth can we relate to a cold and calculating Mafia boss? For this, we will come again to the mirroring of the two hierarchies.

The Mafia structure which Puzo writes about is centuries old, built on the traditional system of the old mythologies. In our world, we might be inclined to think that our nation’s leaders are the political equivalent to the Mafia Dons. But when we look closely, we will see that the leaders are mere “button men.” After all, the leaders are elected and brought into office by popular consensus.

Who then are the Mafia Dons in our midst? The answer: whoever that wishes to hide within the anonymity of the crowd and have others carry out their dark fantasies. Think of a “respectable” person who threatens his/her neighbor by calling the police when something unruly occurs. This tiny illustration should be sufficient to convict us. It also tells us why the ancient Mafia system has died out. The Mafia has died out because we—the average citizens—have chosen to be the replacement. It is no coincidence that Mario Puzo chooses to tell the tale of Hades in a manner of realism and from the perspective of a mortal.

The violence that haunts the Corleones is symbolic of the unrest and decline in moral values that grips a society when it decides to play God. When a society decides to take the role of a democratic judge, jury, and executioner, and by proxy eliminates all those who are non-violent yet disorderly and non-conforming, that society short circuits because the Calvary event does not allow for anonymity to last.

In the last scene of the Godfather: Part II, we see Michael Corleone seated all alone in contemplation. He has become the most powerful man in the underworld but there is no joy in his triumph. How can he celebrate when he sees very clearly the bones of his very own brother, among the others whom he has murdered, as the foundation of his empire? We are left with only one thing: the fate that waits for us if we continue down the same path of hypocrisy.

David Gornoski on the Hypocrisy of Jennifer Aniston, Old Gods Reborn as Political Correctness

Jennifer Aniston recently remarked that it’s “irresponsible” to vote for Kanye while proclaiming her vote for Biden based on women’s rights. “How many women’s bodies were destroyed by Barack Obama and Joe Biden in Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria?” David Gornoski asks the actress who claims to be pro-choice. “These people,” David says, referring to the McWoke crowd, “have a disturbing, sterile, mutated, freaky version of compassion.” The same people who say they are for pro-choice are the same people who think sending more women off to war is somehow ‘woke.’ Listen to the full episode for David Gornoski’s brilliant analysis of how the violent pagan gods of old have been born anew in today’s society.

Trump and Biden Final Battle, Sir Owen on the Lake Tana Issue

The media’s distraction with the Borat movie is pathetic! David says. He highlights how these “Pravda wannabes” are doing everything they can to hide the disgusting Hunter Biden revelations. Every day we’re getting more and more evidence that the whole system is filled with “riggedulations.” “Humpty Dumpty will not be put back again because the new media revolution is here, and you and I are part of it.” Join David Gornoski as he takes on the hive-mind news media, plus Sir Owen returns to the show to talk about the “cesspool in DC” that enriches themselves with taxpayers’ money. Will there be a change of mind on the Democrat side from the Hunter Biden news? What is the situation behind the American involvement in the Lake Tana issue between Ethiopia and Egypt?

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What’s Left for the Left?

“The American left should work toward abolishing the Constitution someday—either for a new document or a new democratic order without a written constitution.” This was written in a column for the New Republic. David analyzes this statement and points to the lack of any real vision on the Republican side as well as the alarming views held by many on the left. “What is left for the left?” David asks. The left has nothing to offer. At this point, they are all for victim-garbed totalitarian control and censorship. How do we move past the left’s victimist authoritarian ways and get down to solving real issues and defend real victims? The key, David says, lies in the imitation of Christ.

Maj Toure on Liberty and Responsibility

In this classic interview, David Gornoski is joined by Maj Toure of Black Guns Matter. The two discuss government overreach, taxation, leftist hijacking of emotions for statism, gun-control, Kanye West’s musical direction, and more. How do we reform our culture without violence and coercion? Listen to the full episode to find out how love for neighbor and freedom can go hand-in-hand in creating a prosperous and creative society.

Neighbor’s Choice vs Victimist Coercion

David Gornoski starts the show with his analysis of the mainstream media’s alliance with the Biden campaign. Almost all the news outlets are saying that Biden is leading the polls. Are we headed towards a one-party system at the federal level? “There is no way we’re going to have liberty when we have a media that is totally owned by a one-party government.” “The state is the messiah,” David says, “for the politically correct religion.” Listen to the full episode as David cautions Americans not to give in to this victim-garbed power politics that is ruining our country.

Keith Weiner on Government Stimulus, Amy Povah and Maurenne Griese on Prisoners in the Pandemic

Keith Weiner of Monetary Metals calls in to comment on stimulus checks in pandemic time and whether they do good for the economy. Is government involvement, even in an emergency, beneficial or harmful? Weiner argues that every government intervention is initiated as a reaction to an “emergency.” Listen to the full episode for more from Keith Weiner, plus David Gornoski’s comments on Drudge Report’s bizarre and aggressive anti-Trump narrative.
Also in the show, Amy Povah of CAN-DO Clemency calls in to discuss the latest updates in clemency appeals for non-violent offenders languishing in federal prisons around the nation. Amy is joined by Maurenne Griese of CAN-DO’s Guardian Angel program who explains the Scarlet Letter criminal record cases and what they mean. Maurenne also highlights the situation of women inmates exposed to the pandemic and the urgent need for compassionate releases and home confinement.

The Stone the Builders Rejected

In our current state of restlessness, we need to remind ourselves that beyond the politicians in DC and the bosses of giant corporations the Master of history is deconstructing coercion and violence. “My power is made perfect in weakness,” Jesus said. The “new world order” falls apart just like the tower of Babel. What did Jesus mean when He said “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone?” Listen to the full episode as David Gornoski explains the startling anthropology behind this prophetic statement and more.

What is the Basis of the Law?

David Gornoski starts off the show by commenting on the latest news surrounding the Supreme Court and Amy Coney Barrett. Is the Supreme Court supposed to deal with matters such as marriage, abortion, and private property? What is the originalist interpretation of the American constitution? It’s not what the conservative ink claims it to be, David says. What is the basis of the law as the founding fathers meant it to be? Join David as he lays down the challenge to conservatives in DC to live up to their promises to decentralize power and defend the human person.

Keith Weiner on an Economic Ray of Hope, Tho Bishop on Pence-Harris Debate

Keith Weiner of Monetary Metals calls in to offer his insights on the nation’s debt, inflation, and how gold investment can rescue us from this economic crisis. How is gold the solution for paying off debt? Listen to the full episode to find out. Also, Tho Bishop of Mises Institute joins David to discuss the upcoming debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris. What topics can we expect from the debate? Is it plausible to expect some support from the reasonable left for Trump’s campaign or the libertarian party?