5 Pivotal Scenes from ‘The Godfather’
The Godfather is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, and for good reason. The 1972 epic crime drama, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based on the novel by Mario Puzo, tells the story of the Corleone family, a powerful mafia clan in New York City. The film is full of memorable scenes that showcase the brilliant acting, writing, directing, and cinematography of the movie.
Preview some of the most pivotal scenes in The Godfather before UMS’s upcoming presentation of The Godfather Live with the Grand Rapids Symphony on Jan 7, 2024.
The opening scene
The film begins with a close-up of a man named Bonasera, who is asking Don Vito Corleone, the head of the family, for a favor. He wants the Don to avenge his daughter, who was brutally beaten by two men. The scene establishes the power and influence of the Don, as well as his code of honor and loyalty. The scene also introduces the iconic line “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse,” which is repeated throughout the film.
The horse head scene
One of the most shocking and disturbing scenes in the film is when Jack Woltz, a Hollywood producer, wakes up to find the severed head of his prized racehorse in his bed. The scene is a result of Woltz refusing to cast Johnny Fontane, a singer and godson of Don Corleone, in his new movie. The scene shows the ruthless and violent nature of the mafia, as well as the lengths that the Don will go to protect his interests and family.
The restaurant scene
One of the most pivotal and suspenseful scenes in the film is when Michael Corleone, the youngest son of Don Corleone, kills two men in a restaurant. The men are Sollozzo, a drug dealer who tried to assassinate the Don, and McCluskey, a corrupt police captain who was protecting Sollozzo. The scene marks Michael’s transition from a war hero and outsider to a cold-blooded killer and heir to the family business. The scene is masterfully executed, with the tension building up as Michael retrieves a hidden gun from the bathroom and shoots both men in the head.
The baptism scene
One of the most iconic and contrasting scenes in the film is when Michael becomes the godfather of his sister’s baby, while simultaneously ordering the murders of his enemies. The scene intercuts between the solemn ceremony in a church and the brutal executions in various locations. The scene shows Michael’s complete transformation into a ruthless and powerful mafia boss, as well as his hypocrisy and loss of morality.
The closing scene
The film ends with a chilling scene that mirrors the opening scene. Michael lies to his wife Kay about his involvement in the murders, while his men address him as “Don Corleone.” The scene shows Michael’s isolation and deception, as well as his ascension to the throne of the family. The final shot is of Kay looking at Michael through a door that closes on her face, symbolizing her exclusion from his world and his secrets.