The Godfather (1972)
(image by twm1340)
If you ask people which of the Godfather films they like most, the original with Marlon Brando usually comes out on top. It's action-packed and romanticized and meets the criteria for a Hollywood blockbuster, with plenty of stars and a good gripping story.
The people who like Godfather II are captured by another interesting story, which is mostly set in the 1950s and yet fills in the time before the original Godfather film, thus giving us a complete picture of this crime family and its roots in a feudal Sicilian past. Of course, to insure success in Hollywood, this film also has the requisite stars: Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, and Robert De Niro.
In Godfather III, however, a new feature emerges, and it's not nearly as exciting or romantic, and that is the legitimization of the crime family's business. These "poor" and "marginalized" descendants of immigrants are now going to go legit. We should be happy for them. For is this not the American Way? After all, we know that John Kennedy's father emerged from Prohibition as a rich man after obviously engaging in nefarious practices. But he went legit and managed to push his family into the establishments of the elite, Harvard, ambassadorship and eventually the White House.
The Godfather films end with poor Michael Corleone, old and alone, dying in a chair in Sicily.
But the story continued. And it continued with as much violence and vengeance as in Parts I and II. We are now living in the reality of the Godfather IV era, where the criminals have successfully infiltrated the halls of power in the United States. They have their minions in Congress, in the Senate, in every important firm on Wall Street, and especially in the banks.
Not many people remember that the Bank of America once used to be called The Bank of Italy. It's another success story about the child of immigrants. But today the Bank of America is a black hole of scandal, one of the main culprits in the ongoing exploitation of home owners in the USA. The criminal practices of banks and Wall Street investment firms are not accidental. The people who run them are from the circles of the elite. And the only criteria you need to get into that inner circle of power in America is wealth, and no one cares how you got it, as long as you really have it.
This corrupt system is self-perpetuating because it allows the strong, the ruthless, the amoral, to justify their position at the top of society through the accumulation of money. There is no other standard of measurement. The more money you have, the more power you have and therefore the more "respect" you get. The people within the holy circle of the elite don't love each other, in fact they consistently cut each other's throats at the drop of a deal. But they do have one thing in common and it pulls them together in times of crisis: they fear and hate the mass of "ordinary" people, the milieu their families emerged from. What they know and don't want to admit is the fact that deep down inside they are all empty versions of Michael Corleone, dying alone and unloved on an island where feudalism still reigns.