Pick one of the two movies last viewed–The Grand Illusion or Godfather 1–and a two page (600 word) essay on it, linking it to one or more of the readings that seem most relevant (your choice).
the reading are: 1- Tocqueville, Aristocracy and Democracy. 2- Marx, Kinship and Capitalism
The readings are attached bellow.
You may handle this following discussion in class, or you may want to pursue a specific question, such as: What turns Micheal Corleone into the monster he eventually becomes? And what does this mean, given the larger cultural-political issues of the Godfather (post-war capitalism, the shifts in American culture, etc.). Again, this is your choice.
Here is a list of some of the key themes we treated in The Grand Illusion and Godfather 1, to help you decide how to handle this.
1. The nature of an aristocratic caste or estate system versus modern democracy and “equality of conditions.”
2. What is the “grand illusion” of Renoir’s movie–is it the differences that divide human beings (national, ethnic, class, sexual), or is it the idea that we can dispense with these differences in a pacifist society of universal humanity? (Or both?)
3. How do the various differences dividing human beings play out in The Grand Illusion–national and class, first of all, any others, such as ethnic or gender?
4. How is the issue of “universal humanity” complicated by the fact that nation-states (like France and Germany) seem to correspond to the rise of democracy, while a humanity transcending national divisions is evinced precisely by the aristocratic (global?) elites (Rauffenstein and Boeldieu).
5. Three issues or conflicts are intimated in the opening scene of The Godfather:
a. The problem of America as an immigrant country–assimilation, integration, acceptance, and recognition (or the failure of these);
b. The problem of two social orders, traditional and modern, a family-based system held together by honor, respect, and loyalty versus a cold-calculating market system in which personal relations are subordinated to the bottom line, in the context of the American dream, paradise failed;
c. The shift of American culture from a more traditionally oriented one to post-War capitalism in the sense signified by Las Vegas.
6. These three may perhaps be summed up and epitomized by the rude awakening of Bonasero, who found paradise in America for his family and himself (keeping his distance from Don Corleone’s business) until his daughter was assaulted. Then he realized in the most brutal way the limits of assimilation and his lack of status and recognition as a Sicilian immigrant.
All these are meant to be helpful tips–you can use them as you see fit.
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