by The Greek.
At first glance, not a Christmas film by any means, The Godfather trilogy is what I consider a skeleton key of an epic that can be viewed and thoroughly enjoyed throughout the day, year, moods and epochs by adults and, yes, children alike. The dramatic violence is there to shake you but is artfully being laid out on the psychology of the fable, a yarn that unravels slowly, unassumingly, letting you follow the thread of your own accord, on your own pace, yet pulling you in all the same. There are a few “fucks” being thrown around, a bit of shooting action, some blood but overall, nothing too offensive or shocking; if you’re comfortable with having on the News with your kids around, then you’re good to go with this one.
Now, back to why this will forever be making my every list, and no, the fact that I identify myself as shameless Pacino trash before I declare myself human has very little to do with my pick.
Starting off, and setting Sofia Coppola and Bridget Fonda apart from the rest (like… waaaaaaaay over there. In the corner. Preferably with a dunce cap on.), let me make one thing clear. All three installments of the saga need to be regarded in unison – do not make the mistake of discrediting Part III as the weakest link of this adamantium cinematic chain. I won’t go into this now for I will end up ranting my way away from the festive premise of this post but for the love of the celluloid Gods, do consider the three parts as one entity and I promise you, the magnitude of this magnificent chestnut’s magical magnetism will intensify magnanimously (sorry, couldn’t stop myself.)
That aside, The Godfather needs no advocacy. Everyone knows it. Sweepingly, everyone likes it. Even if you haven’t seen it (how dare you), you still know the story, the characters, you can still mouth the lines, probably as they are being spoken.
“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
“Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.”
Which is precisely what makes this the perfect movie to have on in the background on a busy Christmas Day. It packs a punch, it rests compelling and fresh yet it doesn’t demand your active presence for the unraveling of the details. You can be on the carpet, opening presents with a pile of overexcited dogs, candy-crazed children, whiskey-laced uncles, grandmas smelling like sweet sherry and turkey stuffing, all piling on top of you and still… it’s got your back.
Every time anyone’s gaze floats over towards the television, there it will stay for a few moments. Suspended. Interested. Because *this* part is on and someone will scream out the line along with the character. Or *that* part is on and a couple of voices will pipe up trying to outdo each other with the impression. Everyone will find it funny, the kids will join in even if their age and comprehension levels prohibit them from fully understanding the bleak premise of the movie.
Admittedly, they’ll probably end up overdoing it with the mimicking to the point of threatening your very sanity but every time they hamster away their previously pushed-aside brussels sprouts in their jaws in an effort to sound like Don Vito, you’ll still be proud of them in your heartfold and chortle. (Besides, after the third beer nothing matters anyway, everything is legitimately funny, screw it, life is grand, right? *hic*.)
The tale of The Godfather is an old, unfailing friend. A brazen ally. A protected comfort zone that spells through an exhilarating 10-hour span and, personally, this is why it makes for a perfect accompaniment to my ‘whenever’. There is a strange contentment there, luxurious in its familiarity. Akin to holding a warm mug of coffee within cupped hands, The Godfather will always stand to give you a little boost of undemanding intimacy; and on a day as hectic as Christmas, don’t you need a place where you can rest your mind? To where you can run for a stolen moment of personal repose?
No matter the happenings around you, regardless of how loud everything gets, Michael will be right there, in the eye of the Yuletide pandemonium, bricking up your secret hide-out using the most robust materials of enthralling fiction.
Keep an ear out, dear reader, for Mama Corleone will sing-song your name as she calls out for everyone to head over to the table. And as you pass through the kitchen, employ your eyes because Clemenza will try to secretly sprinkle a little bit more sugar in the bubbling sauce. Pull out a chair while Sonny sits at the head of the table and laugh away when Vito mock-glares at him with righteous reprimand before they crack their solemn facade and join in your mirthful disposition. Marvel as the firstborn respectfully moves one seat down – but not before messing with Mickey’s hair which, of course, makes the latter huff and you to give him a little pick-me-up wink from across the table. Look around — Connie, Tom, Fredo; they’re all here, just for you as they are to us all, buzzing around us with an open invitation to be a member of their nuclear tribe while silencing reality’s clamor and affording us a quick trip of trust to filmic blaze.
In a last bid to make the case for the hidden merriness of this otherwise dark fable, lest we forget, at its core, The Godfather is a story about the gift of family, uncompromising love, forgiveness. It’s about acknowledging mistakes and imperfection, the strive to grow better, wiser, the need to keep our cherished ones around us, under the ironclad aegis of the clan’s collective wing, safeguarded, warm and content. And if the validity of this Crimbo-reeking argument doesn’t convince you to cheerfully hit ‘play’, then consider this.
It was just the turn of the New Year when Fredo broke his brother’s heart…
…He broke his brother’s heart.