Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Character Depth - Michael Corleone

“That’s my family, Kay. That’s not me.”

He was the best and the brightest of the Corleone brothers. He was the family hero, the most respectable son of Don Vito Corleone, who had the highest hopes for Michael in the “legitimate world.” But when his father was shot, Michael could not keep himself from getting mixed-up in the family business. Inevitably, he took over. What followed was his freefall into a bottomless corruption. While he once distanced himself to Kay from the ways of his family, Michael eventually grew to embody the worst of everything his family represented. Yet, he loved his family dearly. Family was the most important thing in the world to him. However, he was so vengeful, he would kill his own brother, Fredo. He was sane and mad, kind and cruel, powerful and weak. He was a masterful, strategic thinker blinded by vengeance. He would publicly renounce Satan and all of his works at the baptism of his godson and promise that he would protect that child from the wickedness of the world while outside his men murdered all of his enemies. To Kay he was loving and tender, then callous and even sadistic. He could negotiate with anyone, but yet he could not talk to Kay. In that one crucial moment when he agreed to be honest with Kay and tell her about his business, he lied. He used corrupt methods to muscle his family into a “legitimate” life, thereby sealing his family forever in a permanent state of corruption. He made so much money he could invest in a multi-national conglomeration like Mobiliare, but yet, he brought his own family to ruin. He lost his marriage, lost his daughter, lost all of his brothers, tried to escape that life, could not find redemption, and in the end, death followed him everywhere. And he died alone.


Mim said...

Many other mobster characters have been based on Michael, but he remains one of the most unique men in cinema: both loved and hated.

And let's not forget that it was a young Al Pacino who brought him to life. Al adds layers and layers of depth to any character he portrays. He was the perfect choice for Michael.

GameArs said...

"In that one crucial moment when he agreed to be honest with Kay and tell her about his business, he lied."

Ouch. Brutal.

Mystery Man said...

Mim - He certainly was.

Carl - Yeah, man! Is there any other way to study characters than to be absolutely unflinching?

Mickey Lee said...

Heh. Speaking of Mike Corleone, I just ran into Al Pacino at Target in North Hollywood. He was shopping for toys with a small child (one of he and Beverly's? not sure).

Neither Al nor the child appeared to be overacting.

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