“The Write Attitude”
What Do The Godfather and Gone With The Wind Have in Common?
The last week of February marked the 40th anniversary of Francis Ford Coppolla’s The Godfather, and in recognition, the AMC channel aired 72 hours of Godfather movies. Now, I don’t know how you feel about those movies, but I find the stories as fascinating and riveting as any love story I’ve ever read or seen. And while I’ve read more love stories than I can count, only a few have stuck with me the way the characters in The Godfather movies have. One such love story, familiar to many, is Gone With The Wind. Surprisingly, I find that Gone With The Wind and The Godfather have a strong similarity.
Both stories have a main character who won’t be denied. Don’t you love characters so strong, so passionate, so determined you want just what they want? Michael Corleone of The Godfather movies wanted to protect his family at all costs. Scarlett O’Hara of Gone With The Wind wanted to save Tara, the plantation her family owned, at all costs. Yet on the way to gaining their respective goals, each alienated themselves from everyone who ever loved them.
Michael, in pursuit of family safety, destroyed anybody who posed a threat, even his own brother. Scarlett, in pursuit of securing Tara, used everybody who got her a step closer, and paid no heed to the people she destroyed along the way. She married men she did not love, even stealing her own sister’s boyfriend to get what she wanted.
Both Michael and Scarlett wanted to believe in love. When The Godfather began, Michael believed he was in love with Kate. It wasn’t until he had to flee America for Italy that he fell head over heels in love with a beautiful Italian girl that he married. When she was murdered, and he returned to the States, he waited a year to go back to Kate. As a husband, he was sexy, strong, and determined to succeed, as any hero should be. But his goals were steadfast, and Kate soon discovered, not even her love could deter that.
Scarlett, on the other hand, captured the heart of Rhett Butler, the one sexy, handsome rogue who could not only love her– faults and all– but handle her as well. Yet she came to appreciate that far too late as she spent the whole story pining for Ashley Wilkes, someone she considered a true, southern gentleman and trouncing over everyone in her quest to get to him. Both Michael and Scarlett were willing to do anything, in spectacular fashion, to get them what they wanted, however they both ended up alone.
I find both Michael and Scarlett fascinating, but in conclusion, I think “intent of purpose” sets them apart. Michael’s passion was well understood and in the end, when he overstepped reason, he knew it, and was forever changed.
Scarlett’s passion was ultimately about Scarlett. When she finally realized what she had in Rhett, it was far too late. He had moved on, and though she was distraught when he left, she failed to show that she had changed.
As riveting stories, I’m not so far off putting these two together. According to the American Film Institute’s top 100 films of all time, The Godfather is #3 and Gone With the Wind is #4, getting beat out by Citizen Kane (#1) and Casablanca (#2). And I’ll bet it’s for many of the reasons I listed above!