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The Godfather (baptism scene)

The Godfather (1972) is the first film in a trilogy about the Corleones, an Italian-American family that also is one of the Five Families in the New York mafia. The film specifically follows the story of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), who diverts from his original path of avoiding a life of crime to become crime boss even more ruthless than his father, Vito. In this scene, Michael is at the baptism of his nephew, having asked to be the baby’s godfather. As he promises to renounce Satan and all of his works, we see a series of brutal murders being carried out that have been ordered by Michael. As he becomes the godfather to his nephew at the altar, the murders he has ordered mark his transition into Don Corleone, The Godfather of the mafia.

discussion

What are some of the comparisons in the beginning of this scene? How are the comparisons achieved by editing (or cross-cutting between two different scenes)? How is sound/music used to connect the scenes?

Why are the comparisons between the baptism and the murders significant? How does the scene build to a climax with the murders and the end of the baptism ceremony?

What is the point that this scene is trying to make about Michael’s relationship to religion?

What is the role of a godfather in the Catholic religion? What is the significance of Michael (and his father before him) being called “The Godfather” in their role as crime bosses?