The Opening Scene in the Godfather

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The opening scenes of The Godfather Part Three, (Coppola, 1991), we see the family compound in ruins on a grey wintry day. The lighting is dark and depressing and depicts the nature of what has passed and what might be to come. Something sad has occurred. You need not have seen the previous two films to have some idea of the weight and brevity of the narrative. If the film makers had chosen to shoot that opening scene of the flooded and derelict family home on a bright sunny day how would the audience have known that some form of change has occurred? A family home bathed in sunlight implies happiness and family togetherness. The darkness and brooding cold of the shot tells us that the extension of the narrative that will make up this new film comes from a time of depression and of obscurity for the Corleone family. The opening scenes of The Godfather Part Three also highlight the importance of setting as a way to drive and develop the narrative. The family home is in ruins. It is a grand and once luxurious compound that has fallen into decay and abandonment. The audience is aware from the start that the family, the central premise of the whole trilogy, has fallen and broken. Love and togetherness, the strength of the family unit to support and unify the goals of the individual members has been left to ruination and rot. The film's narrative is therefore still about family, but as a broken one with a destructive past. Once the location changes to New York City, the arena of the church illustrates the social position of the family and their power. The Cathedral is tall and grandiose, steeped in tradition and history. It is the defender of the family. Yet, its insertion at this point of the narrative sets out quite clearly that the story will involve the fractured family and its involvement with the church. It poses the question, what are evil gangsters trying

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