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This page is an abstract from our full analysis of The Godfather, one of the most appreciated movies ever and a masterwork of scriptwriting.
Sequence 11. Death of Apollonia. 118-121
In Sicily, Michael teaches Apollonia how to drive a car. They laugh, joke in Italian that it would be easier for her to learn English than drive.
Transition by huge thematic contrast: joy after mourning, a sunny day after a dark room, the lightness of love after the heaviness of death.
Strong dramatic irony by difference of information, from the fact Michael, busy with his pleasures, is unaware of his brother‘s death (as he still ignores, and us with him, that his own assassination is also on the way.)
Don Tommasino arrives by car.
Beginning of the real crisis.
After a polite greeting, Don Tommasino tells Michael he has to leave immediately for another location in Sicily, because his security isn‘t guaranteed here any more. Why? Because his brother Sonny was just murdered.
Information distribution between characters.
Michael, from the house, asks Fabrizio to get the car prepared. Fabrizio asks whether Apollonia is coming with them, Michael says that she will go and stay with father.
Michael enters a room where Calo is taking his meal. Michael inquires about Apollonia‘s whereabouts. Calo says she wants to practice driving.
This sets up the rest.
Michael walks down the stairs, sees Fabrizio who looks like he‘s running away, while Apollonia, at the wheel of the car, blows the horn impatiently.
Information distribution between the action and us, and setup: the flight of Fabrizio doesn‘t get explained yet, it‘s taking us by surprise.
Fabrizio starts running, and Michael just has the time to shout „No, No!“ – but too late: the car explodes, killing Apollonia, the of the explosion throws Michael in the bushes.
Climax. Here‘s the brutal conclusion to the romance. A betrayal again, unsuspected – a wrong track again, because no hint was sent about the disloyalty of Fabrizio. A victim again, the most innocent of all.
This tragic event forces us, contradicting all of our expectations and killing our emotional pleasure, to rewrite our plot schema. In a few seconds:
- This marriage that appeared as an Act III, becomes the end of the Act II, and another Act III closes the plot in a totally contrary direction.
- The happy end proves we have been on a wrong track, and the story gets converted into a tragic ending.
- The very favorable prognosis is converted into a despair-filled conclusion: from that point, love isn‘t possible any more. From perfect love to nothingness…
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