Society and Class in The Godfather
The film The Godfather (1972) produced by Albert Ruddy and directed by Francis Ford
Coppola is a crime drama movie that was created based on a similarly named best-selling novel
by Mario Puzo. The story in the film is centered on a fictional crime mafia in New York City
between 1945 and 1955. One of the main themes in this movie is the effects society and class as
depicted in the Corleone family whose head, Vito Corleone, is initially the mafia?s leaders (The
Godfather). The theme of society and class is emphasized in the film using various design
elements and techniques such as the cinematography, lighting, direction, costuming, and set
Social status and class have been emphasized from the beginning of the film when
Amerigo Bonasera visits Vito Corleone in a bid to get some help in attaining ?justice? for his
daughter who had been assaulted by American men who were reported but later released.
Bonasera felt that the men did not get the justice they deserved hence he needed Don Corleone to
kill them. However, Don did not support his idea because his daughter was not dead. In spite of
his wishes not being granted, Bonasera was not in any way hostile towards Vito Corleone.
Instead of being angry, he shows a lot of respect and even proceeds to bow and refer to Vito
Corleone as ?The Godfather? as he had earlier requested. The camera is specifically focused on
the man?s face to show his reaction to Mr. Corleone?s response to his request. His expression
depicted that the man was content with Mr. Corleone?s decision even though it is not what he
wanted. The camera focus on Amerigo Bonasera?s reaction to Vito Corleone emphasizes Mr.
Corleone?s authority and status in the society. His decision is always considered to be right and
always obeyed (Benshoff, & Griffin, 2011, p. 26). However, Vito Corleone later approved his
request and asked him to consider the ?justice? a gift for his daughter?s wedding.
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1. society and class
These are topics of the film
rather than a theme. What
does the film say about
society and class? [Allison
2. cinematography, lighting,
direction, costuming, and
Great work pointing out the
elements of film you will
discuss in your essay.
3. Social status and class
What does the film say about
these topics? What details
can you add to help the
reader understand your
point? [Allison Robertson]
This paragraph contains
multiple main ideas. Break it
up into smaller paragraphs
that each focus on one
central idea. For additional
information, please visit the
‘Writing Center & Library’ link
in your course where you will
find the Writing Resources
tab. Click on the “How to
Write a Good Paragraph” link.
SOCIETY AND CLASS 3
A similar cinematography technique is used when Luca Brasi publicly shows how
grateful he is to have been invited to Vito Corleone?s daughter?s wedding. Luca Brasi had no
home and was taken in by Vito Corleone. He does not believe that a man such as him would be
invited to a wedding hosted by such a prestigious family. The film?s sound is specifically focused
on the Luca Brasi?s chant about how grateful he is that he is one of the guests at the wedding.
Although Brasi is chanting in the background as the other guests proceed with their affairs at the
wedding, the film?s sound focuses on his voice as he repeats the sentence, ?I am honored and
grateful that you have invited me to your home on the wedding day of your daughter.?
Additionally, Brasi is clearly shown sitting alone, away from all the other guests. This scene
shows the clear difference between the social status of the rich and the poor as the poor do not
expect to be in the same social gatherings as the rich (LoBrutto, 2004).
The society and class theme is also depicted in the costuming of the characters. There is a
clear difference between the dressing style of those with money and those without. Dark colored
suits have been used as a symbol of social status. During the meetings of the mafia, the members
dress in expensive-looking dark colored suits. This dress code among the people of higher status
is also seen during the wedding scene. All the men in this wedding are dressed in dark colored
suits with ties because this was an event happening at the house of a respectable family hence
they had to show up dressed in a manner that befits their social status (Utami, 2010). The film?s
costume design is a clear depiction that the characters respect social class.
In conclusion, The Godfather shows the viewers the extent to which crime can go when
controlled by powerful people with political connections. Throughout the film, one can clearly
see the theme of society and class as it has been depicted in various scenes throughout the movie.
The film?s cinematography puts a lot of camera focus on the character?s facial expressions to
– 3 –
1. ?I am honored and
grateful that you have
invited me to your home on
the wedding day of your
Excellent supporting example,
SOCIETY AND CLASS 4
give the viewer the chance to understand their feelings towards social status. This technique
helps the viewer to understand the level of respect that the film?s characters have towards the
people of higher status. There is also special focus on the sound to help the viewer hear the
remarks of the characters that depict the differences between social statuses. The costumes of
the characters have also been used to show social and class differences. The upper class people
are seen to dress in expensive suits and dresses. These examples clearly show how the issue of
social status is important in the film.
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SOCIETY AND CLASS 5
Benshoff, H. M., & Griffin, S. (2011). America on film: Representing race, class, gender, and
sexuality at the movies. John Wiley & Sons.
Coppola, F. F. (1972). The godfather [film]. FF Coppola (Producer). USA: Paramount Pictures.
Retrieved from: http://www.watchfree.to/watch-a9-The-Godfather-movie-online-freeputlocker.html
LoBrutto, V. (2004). Making Pictures: A Century of European Cinematography.
Utami, D. (2010). Struggle for a better life in Mario Puzo?s the godfather movie version: an
individual psychological approach (Doctoral dissertation, Universitas Muhammadiyah
Society and Class in The Godfather