Though our winter break seemed short this year, I don’t think I needed much more time to create a literal nest of blankets and pillows on my sofa at home. Every day I, and I bet most of the readers as well, would wake up and immediately sit down on my favorite cushion for whatever “Mythbusters” marathon or holiday special caught my attention. No matter what, that was my routine, and I would actually put off meeting with old friends in order to lounge for another hour before I showered. Due to my sheer lethargy and the proximity of my couch to the kitchen, I watched a lot of movies.
On New Year’s Day, glued in front of the TV, my mother decided it was best for all of us to watch a marathon of The Godfather (1972). It was the perfect film to watch on a cold winter day after the warmth of the holiday season was put out: lots of blood, easy to walk in and out of, and the feeling of accomplishment after watching hours of what my father calls the best cinematic accomplishment known to man. The holiday decorations were in boxes in the corner of the living room ready to be put away in the attic, and with an old candy cane in each hand, we worked our way back to 1946’s New York City.
Watching a movie with your parents is a daunting task if you think about it too much. Though my parents and I have seen the trilogy enough to remember where the blood splatters, I still feel an obligation to say “Hey! What a bad guy!” as often as possible to prove that I indeed know how to avoid mob crime. When Woltz receives a reminder of the powers of the Corleones in the form of a horse head in Part I, I gasp at the amount of blood and become saddened by an animal’s death in accordance to my mother. When Carlo beats a pregnant Connie and orchestrates Sonny’s death, I remind my parents that I would never marry someone like that. And when Michael brings Roth’s brother to his court proceedings in Part II, I agree with my father that Vito would never have done that; he never wanted this for Michael! We don’t say anything in The Godfather Part III, since it is an unnecessary addition to the flawless first two. I don’t agree with my parents to deceive them; I definitely believe these things about Mafia Dons and their cronies. But living partially on my own at the age of 19, I shouldn’t say anything that might show that I am not ready to be a real adult.
Also, let’s not forget the wonderful walk around the house or checking of email during any hint of a sex scene. Not that common in The Godfather trilogy, but I digress.
How different would my afternoon with Francis Ford Coppola be if I weren’t home for break? I could’ve been anywhere when I decided to watch seven hours of vengeful leading men; at my apartment on a torrenting website, screening it in a movie theater for the 1974 Academy Awards, even by myself on Valentine’s Day if I was feeling openly cynical. It was watching it for the first time years ago, with my parents, that helped me love the movies anyways, so watching it any way else would be a completely different experience. I for sure would spend a lot less time pointing out symbolism and foreshadowing for the fun of it than I would dully be explaining who is who (“All the names sound the same!”).
This is what I want to tackle with this column winter quarter. Movie viewing is completely subjective, depending on how you choose to watch it. It’s time for the different methods of watching a movie to be critically analyzed rather than the movie itself, as the best memories are often not what is on screen, but how it is seen. Because of my New Year’s movie marathon with my family, my experience was rich and fulfilling, not only because I literally sat down for the same amount of time as a workday, but because I spent that time with my family doing something we loved, and therefore I liked the movie so much more. The circumstances in which you watch a movie can be so much more than what is happening on screen, even when a young Robert DeNiro is saying that he’s going to make an offer someone else can’t refuse. After all, “A man (or woman) who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”
EMILIE DEFAZIO can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graphic by CA Aggie Graphic Design Team.