What to do when hunkering down with the family? We ate spaghetti dinner thanks to my son, 20, who made us sauce, and we watched The Godfather, one of my favorite movies of all time. About family.
I tried to get the kids to watch The Godfather when they were still too young, probably six or seven years ago. It didn’t hold their interest. This time it did.
Daughter 21, watched a three-hour movie that so captivated her she wasn’t even checking her phone. Son had studied the movie in his film class and already knew the story well. Wife and I were familiar with every scene and sequence, yet still picked up on subtleties and nuances we’d not noticed before.
I love the scene when Michael, at his father’s bedside in the hospital following the assassination attempt on Don Veto Corleone, saying, “I’ll take care of you now. I’m with you now.” It’s the turning point of the movie, the beginning of Michael’s ascension to the role of Godfather. And then he enlists poor, nervous Enzo, the baker, to stand outside the hospital with him to keep his father’s enemies away.
What fascinates about The Godfather is the sympathy we have for these gangsters and murderers. Why? Because within their story world, they act with honor and loyalty and devotion. They operate for their cause without fear. Nothing is more important than family (Right, Fredo?)
The Godfather had a place of lore in my childhood. My mother was an Italian woman from Niagara Falls. She loved the novel and the movie. Her cousins, Duane and Raymond, operated an auto junkyard and were reportedly in the mob. My mother told me that Duane was arrested for shooting the husband of his mistress, but got off on self-defense. Uncle Leo had no visible means of support, yet wore diamond rings and flashed hundred dollar bills in front of his wide-eyed grand nieces and nephews.
And, of course, there was a copy of Mario Puzo’s novel in our house, and I remember my sister pointing out the scandalous passage (page 27 — I’ll never forget page 27) to me. “. . . my insides felt as mushy as macaroni boiled for an hour.” What a line, Mario.
Watching The Godfather with my family turned into a moment of real togetherness. It allowed us to back-burner for a few hours the horrors of the virus. By the time we got up from the couch, our plates and pans were dried and crusted with sauce and pasta. I scrubbed them clean.