How did the godfather Michael die

The Rise and Fall of Michael Corleone - An Analysis

For an interpretation of the family epicThe Godfather it is imperative to think about each family member: Michael Corleone is a central figure in this. The structure of the Corleone family (including the other families), the patriarchy, the character traits of the individual family members and the milieu in which they move are the keys to understanding this story and the people involved in it.

The figure of the Michael Corleone is, like the other figures, inThe Godfatherintroduced. Michael Corleone shows up in his navy uniform and with his girlfriend Kay Adams at the wedding of his sister Conny. It is noticeable that Michael and Kay sit down alone at an off-side table without first approaching the family members or the wedding guests. Michael Corleone does not take part in the celebration and thus in the “dance” of the wedding party (mafia family).

In the shadow of the family

His family members (stepbrother Tom Hagen and brother Fredo Corleone) have to come to him at his table or, as his father Don Vito Corleone had to do, summon him to speak to him. Michael's distance to the milieu he comes from is also reflected in the fact that Kay, as an outsider, shows more interest in the guests and the family than he does. It becomes unmistakably clear Michael Corleones Attitude towards his family when he said to Kate regarding the story of Johnny Fontane: “This is my family, Kate, I am not!”

After the wedding celebration, the viewer sees Michael CorleoneThat is at least at the end of the film and in the other two parts ofThe Godfather developed into the most important figure, not for about 30 minutes. Michael really goes into hiding and cannot be reached by his family. He only reappears when he hears about the assassination attempt on his father from the newspaper (!). His eldest brother Santino (the Don's deputy in this situation) and his stepbrother Tom Hagen (Consiglierei) keep Michael out of the family business even during a crisis meeting, as the Don always wants.

Michael Corleone however, is drawn into the family business when he visits his father in the hospital and prevents another attack on his life. When he learns that his father's opponents want to meet with him to discuss the situation, he decides to murder “the Turk” and his companion (a New York police officer); whatever happens then.

Exile in Sicily

The Corleone family then sent Michael to a hiding place in Sicily for a longer period of time (not precisely defined, but at least a year). There Michael tries to find out something about Sicily and the birthplace of his father (the village of Corleone). On the way to Corleone he met Apolonia, a young Sicilian, whom he also married.

Michael and Apolonia spend a short carefree time in Sicily until Michael learns of the violent death of his eldest brother. Despite his heightened vigilance, Michael is brutally confronted with the family business again. He has to watch his wife die in a car bomb that was actually aimed at him. This also goes hand in hand with the realization that the long arm of the Corleone family still extends as far as Sicily, but can no longer guarantee them safety there. The viewer only sees Michael again after this scene when he visits his ex-girlfriend Kay to propose to her and to inform her that he has been working for his father for at least a year.

The metamorphosis

At this point Michael seems very different. He wears smart clothes and looks very serious and serene. From now on, the viewer accompanies Michael's transformation into a cool, calculating and brutal man of power. Michael, who was initially freedom-loving, friendly and disinterested in family business, now adapts more and more to the Mafia system.

He makes this system so much his own in an almost Freudian way that he goes further than his father or the dons of the other families; he becomes the epitome of the Mafia boss. Michael Corleone tries by clever tactics in secret to maneuver his family out of their defensive position, into which they were forced after the war with the other families. In doing so, he is breaking new ground that remains hidden from even the closest management circle of his family. He apparently doesn't trust anyone except his father, so no one can know which step will come next.

At this point you can clearly feel why the symbol of the puppet strings was chosen for this film. The strings are pulled without those involved noticing how this is happening; they are moved like puppets.

Through these hidden tactics and his isolation from other people, Michael experiences such a degree of alienation that he is feared and often even hated not only by his enemies, but also by his followers and his family (e.g. Conny and later Kay). The new Michael Corleone is hard-hearted, strict, brutal, wrong and uncompromising. Michael's transformation will take place in the last few minutesThe Godfather clearly in a particularly impressive way.

He is the godfather of his nephew's baptism and swears on behalf of the child to be baptized to the devil and all his works (evil). Parallel to the baptism, however, you can see how Michael's plans are implemented by his vassals: You see several regular executions of his enemies. At this point it becomes clear that Michael not only wants to withdraw from the classic “family business” and move to Las Vegas, but that he is striving for absolute power in the mafia family.

Immediately after the baptism of the child, which can also be seen as a symbol for Michael's baptism as mafia boss and thus as the incarnation of a new personality Michael Corleone consequently even to execute his brother-in-law (the child's father) for his involvement in the murder of his brother Santino.

Change in The Godfather II

InThe Godfather II Michael's dilemma becomes clearer. He tries to get himself and his family out of the mafia business and to enable a life in the majority society. He uses the power he has gained in the mafia to control the clans. They should conduct their business in such a way that his family does not have to contend with rivalries, law enforcement agencies or negative public opinion. He tries to use the money, the structures and his influence so that the Corleone family can get into the supposedly clean and legal casino business. However, he realizes that despite his social advancement, which his father had already planned for him, he cannot escape the game for power and influence.

Michael got so lost in his role and his business that he himself became a stranger to his wife and she even got a divorce from him. When Kay tells Michael that she has had their third child together and that she wants to get a divorce, she also says something that describes Michael's situation very well:

“You cannot forgive me now. There is no other way for you, because you are a Sicilian and it has been going on for too long, for two thousand years ... ”- Kay Adams (Corleone)

Kay Michaels situation hits the point: Michael Corleone Kay can neither forgive her divorce and the abortion of her third child, nor his brother Fredo for betraying the family. He has to bring himself to reject Kay and to take away the children and even to have his own brother executed. He cannot borrow from his milieu either, because the society in which he lives repeatedly makes demands on its godfather. Michael Corleone is completely meaningless as a person. What counts is the godfather! He cannot free himself from this almost archaic role.

Kay's words make Michael so aware of his situation that he loses his composure for the first time and hits Kay in a downright rage. The divorce from Kay shatters Michael's dreams of a normal family life, pushing him deeper into his role and “business”.

As at the end of the first part, Michael has to free himself from a defensive position at the end of the second. His attempt to do things like a good American (courts and public relations) fails. Even now he still has to resort to the well-known means: intrigue, murder and appeal to his position. At this point one inevitably thinks of Buonasera (the undertaker), who asks old Vito Corleone for justice for his daughter at the beginning of the first part.

Like Buonasera, too can Michael Corleone does not rely on the majority society and has to move within its Sicilian immigrant milieu. For Michael Corleone this step is just as difficult and disappointing as it is for Buonasera.

The aging Michael Corleone

In the third part we finally see a much older and gentler one Michael Corleonewho believes that he has finally maneuvered his family out of the mafia family. But here, too, he has to learn again that he has only got involved in an even more complex power game and that there is no way out of this web of power for him and his family.

At this point Michael managed to increase his money with legal transactions. He is completely in control of the mafia business in the USA. The Corleone family no longer takes part in the mafia business, but provides all families under it with opportunities to launder their profits.

In The godfather III tries Michael Corleone but to get his family out of the mafia family completely. With his fortune he tries to get into an internationally operating real estate company (Immobiliare) belonging to the Vatican. His “friends” or his business partners also want to participate in this business, but Don Corleone refuses to do so. Although Don Corleone gives his partners generous gifts and wants to leave the mafia business to them, the Corleone family is drawn into a war again.

Michael puts it clearly:

"Just when I thought I was outside, they pull me back in." - Michael Corleone

Even at the end of the third part there is no way out of the mafia family for Michael! The full tragedy of the figure of Michael Corleone becomes particularly clear to the viewer at the end of the third godfather part. Michael is lonely and plagued by a conflict of conscience. He realizes that all of his work and hardship have not benefited him and his family. He remains trapped in his milieu without being part of it. Don Corleone is not loved and respected like his predecessor, only feared.

His emotional problems and loneliness are particularly evident in three places.

  1. At confession: "I have sinned badly Father ..."
  2. At Don Tomassino's grave: “Don Tomassino, why did everyone love you so much and just fear me?”

  3. In the final scene: Michael sits on a chair in his garden and dies alone, while his father died while playing happily with his grandson.

It is particularly sad that Michael finally realized that there will never be a way out of “business” for him and his family and that he himself has become too weak to assert himself and to protect his family. He tries to escape this power game by leaving his nephew to run the family business.

A bitter end

But even when he believes he has at least taken himself and his children out of the business, he has to watch as his dream of a family freed from business fails. Like his Sicilian wife Apolonia, Michael's daughter also dies in front of his eyes in an attack that was actually aimed at him.

For me, this scene is the most emotional from the Godfather trilogy. Michael screams his desperation on the steps of the opera house (reference to the drama?) And Kay realizes at that moment the dilemma of her ex-husband. This supposedly powerful man who pulls the strings is just a figure in a game of power that he has not chosen and from which he cannot free himself.

Michael, like his father before, failed!

He did not succeed in enabling himself and his family to live in freedom and in the midst of society. However, there is hope. Even if Michael Corleone long resisted, his son renounces his father's wishes and devotes himself to a musical career.

The figure of the Michael Corleone shows what it is aboutThe Godfather goes.The Godfather is a family saga that shows how several generations of a family suffer and perish under their milieu and the power, which here works almost like metaphysical violence.

And so dies Michael Corleone lonely in a chair. The world that once lay at his feet has turned away from him. The years of fame were followed by years of isolation and loneliness. Paid in the end Michael Corleone with lonely death for the wrongdoings of his life.

About the author

Marco

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Founder and author of screenheroes. Likes good stories and enjoys developing for WordPress.