Question 1: The American Dream or Nightmare?
a) The godfather is the story of an immigrant family trying to gain a better life in America. In the early 20th century America was so heavily promoted as the land of opportunity and immigrants jumped at a new and hopefully improved life. Vito runs a very successful business, although not legal, he has established a better life for himself and his family. As seen in the first 20 minutes of the film, Vito can afford to pay for a lavish wedding for his daughter, though at the same time we see the contrast of the dark side of his business. Vito’s hopes were to one day to go legitimist in the way he does business, and though he was never able to, he ...view middle of the document...
They made her drink whiskey and then they tried to take advantage of her. She resisted. She kept her honor. So they beat her. Like an animal. When I went to the hospital her nose was broken. Her jaw was shattered, held together by wire. She couldn't even weep because of the pain. But I wept. Why did I weep? She was the light of my life. A beautiful girl. Now she will never be beautiful again.” (Bonasera 1)
Bonasera states, “I believe in America” this suggests his appreciation for the pursuit of the American dream and the so-called land of opportunity. However he continues to speak about his daughter. “She found a boyfriend – not an Italian” This specification of her boyfriend indicates that no matter how much he loves America, there is fear that America will dilute the sanctity of Italian culture that Italo-Americans so desperately try to conserve. (This is common, as an Italo-Canadian I have experienced this first hand, my father Michel like Michael Corleone married an English woman) When discussing what happened to his daughter at the hands of the non-Italian boys he uses the word honor, this is another literary theme that is used over and over throughout the rest of the movie. Despite being distraught, Bonasera must control his emotions, as a sign of respect for Don Vito, as no respectable man, would dare sob in front of a man with such power. As the camera moves backwards, Bonasera looks smaller, by diminishing his stature it makes the character seem as if he lacks confidence and power of course this contrast to the emerging grandeur of Don Vito where the scene is shot over the shoulder of Bonasera.
“I went to the police, like a good American. These two boys were brought to trial. The judge sentenced them to three years in prison, and suspended the sentence. Suspended sentence! They went free that very day! I stood in the courtroom like a fool, and those two bastards, they smiled at me. Then I said to my wife, "For justice, we must go to Don Corleone." (Bonasera 1)
Bonasera contradicts his statement of his love for America. In his plea he states, “For justice, we must go to Don Corleone.” Moreover, he insults Don Corleone by going to the police before seeing him. Bonasera begs Don Vito for justice but doesn’t speak out loud what he feels is justice. This shot of the men whispering sets a template for the film, that most illegal activity is done in shadow. This is important as it forms a contrast with the brightly lit scenes of the rest of family enjoying themselves at the wedding and indicates that Italian-American morality has two sides public and what stays in the family.
“We have known each other many years, but this is the first time you've come to me for counsel or for help. I can't remember the last time you invited me to your house for a cup of coffee, even though my wife is godmother to your only child. But let's be frank here. You never wanted my friendship. And you feared to be in my debt.” (Vito 2)
When Bonasera tries to...