“The Godfather,” directed by Francis Ford Coppola is a 1972 film that gained popularity given it was a mixture of themes that were not so popular at the time. The film is set in a “mafia” zone setting, bringing out conflict as a major theme. The film was inspired by World War II that took place in the 1930’s, with “Mafia boss” Don Vito known as the Godfather. The movie revolves around “Godfather’s” family; their togetherness brought forth by the family business that serves as well as the heart of the family too (Messenger 257). However, there are more themes to it such as betrayal, unity, war, and love among others although conflict remain as the leading theme. Notably, Coppola tries to put his themes in his films that are almost similar, with all conflict aspects being reflected in all his works, such as “Apocalypse Now” of 1979. Therefore, this paper will seek to understand the major themes put across by Coppola in his films, establishing their comparisons and contrasts (Hoskin & Schwerdt 113).
Conflict serves as a major theme in both films. Both themes are inspired by war, since both of them are set in an environment of war, which eventually stirs up conflict and hatred. To start with, “the Godfather” is a reflection of the just ended World War II then, with the “mafia” being the main focus here. “The godfather” is considered as a “father” of many, following his attribute of solving certain conflicts and even giving hand in any situation that might compromise or conflict the interest of a person (Messenger 260). This is shown through the “Godfather” who will always have a conflict of interest as long as his traditional attributes are threatened by new way. Due to this fact, he ends up putting Michael, who married his daughter, into a tough position whenever he sought his help to diverse his business (Messenger 257). “Apocalypse Now” shows conflict through Captain Benjamin who embarks on a secretive mission to kill Colonel Kurtz who has gone insane. But his crime and violence against humanity is what makes Captain Benjamin, lead his tribal men to this mission as he serves as the “god” (Hoskin & Schwerdt 114).
Notably, both films have a “god” figure, referring to the person who seems ahead and knows particularly how to go about issues with a sense of command. Both serve as a leadership symbol, but above all, as the people who make decisions pertaining a certain pertaining a certain practice. As much as a “mafia” leader is considered the father from the very beginning of the film, Captain Benjamin is considered as a “god” figure whilst he lead his troop to the mission. However, these two figures from the film have a similar purpose, with the key role being rational leaders.
Both “god” figures forgave their job because of one reason, and another, only to embark on something that pursue their interests despite people’s ideas. Their initial positions in their previous jobs might be argued as the key factor of them being referred to as “gods”. However, their leadership ends up being a personal interest affair that seeks to satisfy their needs.
Coppola seeks to bring out the role of leadership in his films, conflict of interests being vital features. These films try to explain the conditions and results of the war, with major effect being on the family according to “The Godfather” whereas “Apocalypse Now” shows results of the war on individuals too.
Hosking, Sue, and Dianne Schwerdt. Extensions: Essays in English Studies from Shakespeare to
The Spice Girls. Kent Town, S. Aust: Wakefield Press, 1999. Print.
Messenger, Chris. The Godfather and American Culture: How the Corleones Became "Our
Gang". Chicago: SUNY Press, 2012.