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The Godfather: As It's Meant To Be Understood

I love the Godfather and Matthew Cantirino at First Things understands why.

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Godfather film which, together with its immediate sequel (what third volume?) constitutes one of the–if not the–greatest ensemble of American films ever produced. What’s always struck me about the films’ cultural significance is the way they’ve stood apart from other films of their genre. The real reason for this, I think, is not because they’re the originators of the genre, or because they’re the best (though they are). It’s because they’re fundamentally different from the countless imitations and homages which have come after and obscured their message by birthing a cottage industry of shoot-’em-ups and stereotypes. But the source of their uniqueness is more than their focus on a minority experience in America (Italian immigrants) or the way they flaunt religious motifs often absent from mainstream American culture (as even a half-attentive viewing will confirm, the use of Catholic sacramental imagery is indeed stunning). Rather, the real source of their brilliance is their philosophical and theological acumen.

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