"The Godfather Epic" was on TV last night, and I happened upon it at the point where Michael is visiting his father in the hospital and is then brutally assaulted by the police captain. I watched it until the final scene of the origninal movie, when he lies to his wife straight-faced about killing his sister's husband Carlo.
Until I read about "the epic" version this morning, I hadn't known what was up. If you remember, Godfather II had two stories in it--the early life of Vito and then Michael's life after the move to Vegas. The origninal movie sort of "fit" in between the two story lines of the second movie. I think cutting it all up and presenting it chronologically (as the epic does), makes a lot of sense, and I need to set aside the requisite seven hours someday to take it all in thusly.
What's important though, is that I was able to rope The Kitten into watching the movie with me last night. I don't beleive she's ever watched more than a couple of minutes of it, mostly passing through rooms where I have been watching. It is difficult for me to not watch The Godfather...sort of like "The Shawshank Redemption" in that regard.
But she sat down and watched when I said, "sit down with me and watch this. I promise to answer every single question you may have." I think this appealed to her, as I can on occasion, not be as generous with my time whilst watching the telly.
And so we watched, and she would pipe up now and then to ask a question, which I answered enthusiastically. After all, the prospect of adicting her to The Godfather was offering itself, and I was not going to pass this up.
This morning, we were discussing the movie--a movie I've watched dozens of times; a movie in which I can recite line after line. And The Kitten did something that she has a habit of doing--she caused me to look at something I'd looked at over and over--in an entirely new way.
You see, I spent a good part of the last part of the movie talking to her about how well I thought the filmmakers portrayed Michael's descent into evil, how well Pacino under-acted (for the only time in his career) in a particularly effective way. I've always admired Michael in a perverse sort of way for the focus and method he brought to the elimination of his competition on the day of his nephew's Baptism. What I NEVER realized is the degree to which this meister stroke was cooked up with Vito before Vito's death! All along, I had thought Michael and Michael alone had cooked this up, and waited for his father to die to implement it. Not so--as the Kitten pointed out.
In the scene where Michael and Vito are in the garden, Vito informs Michael that Barzini will try to arrrange a meeting, and that the person who brokers the meeting is a traitor. All along I've believed that the Don was talking matter of factly about a future event that was bound to happen. What I NEVER realized was that they were engaged in transistion planning, that the Don was speaking specifically to WHAT WOULD HAPPEN WHEN HE DIED, when the terms of the "deal" among the five families would be considered null and void. Even as he was failing--the Don was the visionary, the Don was the strategist. Here I was thinking Michael to be a prodigy with an edge that even his father hadn't possessed. But I was wrong.
Later, during the scene when Clemenza and Tessio ask the Don to allow them to start their own families, Michael talks about great events that were in motion. Every previous time I've watched that scene--I assumed he was talking about the move to Vegas. But he wasn't. He was talking about a Shakespearean display of power designed to shock and awe La Cosa Nostra -- planned jointly by him and his father! Vito and Michael realized that when the Don was gone, Michael's position would be perilous. Their plan was so breathtakingly perfect, that it simply could not be discussed with ANYONE else in that room--as we see from Tessio's eventual defection.
Again--I've watched these movies over, and over, and over again--and I simply saw all of this as a sign of Michael's evil virtuosity. But it was not just that. It was Vito's genius.
And I needed a rookie watching it all with intent for the first time to show it to me. There is a lesson here.