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An Offer You Can’t Refuse
April 23, 2018
Les Grands Ballets dancers rehearsing Vendetta

Vendetta, which offers a glimpse of the dangerously captivating world of the Mafia, was largely inspired by the great film classic The Godfather.

Some 46 years after the release of the first film in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather trilogy, who wouldn’t recognize the sound of the trumpet playing Nino Rota’s musical theme, and who hasn’t ever heard the expressions “sleeping with the fishes” or “an offer he can’t refuse”? Even today, the big-screen adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel is considered to be one of the best films in cinematic history, and it has left an indelible mark on our collective imagination.

In 1972, American film critic Roger Ebert stated in 1972 that if viewers felt sympathy for the Corleone family, it was because The Godfather is set entirely in the closed world of organized crime, within an already-corrupt society: we become attached to these criminals who were complex, nuanced characters rather than the one-dimensional gangsters we had always seen on the big screen. Compared to the heads of the other Mafia families in the film, Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), who is opposed to criminal activities like drug trafficking that target innocent victims, is almost a man of honour. In a way, he also embodies the American dream, as an immigrant who worked hard to give his family a better life and who managed to make it to the top.

Tom Santopietro, author of The Godfather Effect, even believes that the film, which was written, shot and acted in by Italian Americans, helped break down certain stereotypes regarding Italian immigrants at the time and change the way they were depicted in Hollywood cinema. Exit the uneducated peasant with the caricatural accent: Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is a brilliant academic and World War II hero who has no intention of following his father Vito into the criminal underworld, but is forced to do so to protect and then to avenge his family. It is in spite of himself that he finally becomes a cruel crime family boss.

With the American dream, family, betrayal, vengeance and honour, it’s no surprise that The Godfather still inspires fictional anti-heroes nearly half a century later.

Did you know?

  • The expression “godfather” was not used to refer to the head of the Mafia before Mario Puzo called his novel The Godfather. It is still in use today, particularly by the FBI.
  • Al Pacino nearly didn’t get the role that made him a household name and earned him two Oscar nominations. The heads of Paramount Pictures thought he was “too short” to play Michael Corleone.
  • The words “Mafia” and “Cosa Nostra” are never spoken in the film.
  • “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” This famous reply was improvised by actor Richard Castellano.
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