The Godfather - A Critical Essay

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The Godfather – A Critical Essay "That's my family, Kay, it's not me," concludes Michael Corleone, separating himself from the infamous family at the center of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather. Throughout Coppola's film, Michael's beliefs transform dramatically. Specifically, his change of heart mainly occurs as a result of his evolution in philosophy and perspective, a consequence of crippling conflict within his family. The changes within Michael's character and outlook occur in stages as the film progresses, until by the end he's crystallized into a very different man. At first, he represented a decorated war hero and a civilian amidst a mafia family. By the end, however, Michael turns into the leader of the world he never wanted to enter. He has become the Godfather himself. When we are first introduced to Michael, he is not involved in the family business. That said, he's not an outcast. Indeed, he's made a deliberate choice not to be a part of the Sicilian crime lifestyle of the Corleones - a decision that's respected. Though he is not a part of the family business, he's certainly not naive as to what it comprises, and he's fully aware of what happens behind closed doors. Still, in the opening wedding scene, we immediately sense the contrast between Michael and his family in two major ways. For one, he's dressed differently than the rest, from head to toe in a U.S. military uniform. And second, he defies traditional convention by having a girlfriend, Kay, who is not Italian. The idea of dating a non-Italian in a bastion of conservative values like the Corleones is, of course, anathema; Michael isn't openly scolded for this, but he must endure the awkwardness of trying to have his girlfriend fit in to a family that subtly rejects her. Michael, for his part, is keen to separate himself from his family. He freely expresses to Kay that "it's not me" when

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