Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Godfather - Michael's Rise to Power

Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather series is filled with one iconic death scene after another. Sonny's ambush, Fredo's fishing trip, and of course.....the Moe Greene Special. But perhaps the most important death scene takes place at Louis' Restaurant, where Michael met Sollozzo and McClusky to resolve their hostilities. Important because it is Michael Corleone's first brush with the family business, THE key moment for Michael as he sacrifices everything for his family....

After Michael returns from the bathroom the tension builds. Sollozzo converses in Italian, but the film provides no subtitles because what he's saying doesn't matter. Coppola wants you to focus on Michael Corleone and his state of emotion. The tension builds further as the camera slowly zooms in on Michael, suddenly the sound of a subway train drowns everything else in the room. That's when Michael leaps to his feet and shoots Sollozzo in the forehead, killing him instantly. He quickly shoots McCluskey in the throat, and then again in the forehead. McClusky violently spasms and smashes his head on through the table as Michael flees the scene. Not only is it a great death because of what it signifies, but holy shit, he shoots him in the throat man. You don't see that too often. Michael has now taken the first step to his own downfall.

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