THEOLOGY AT THE MOVIES
The sprawling crime stories, “The Godfather” and “The Godfather II” are undeniably sordid tales about the infection of evil. But I recall one line at the close that actually speaks hope to the suffering in our world. Is wickedness and rebellion going to continue forever, with God’s people simply escaping the pain by way of the cemetery and then the Bible’s promise of the soul escaping to paradise? Or is Satan’s reign going to be finally and galactically defeated?
At the very beginning, a naïve Kay Adams attends a family wedding with her boyfriend, war hero Michael Corleone. She’s startled when he tells her the infamous “band-leader story” describing the Don’s role as head of a crime syndicate. “That’s my family, Kay,” he insists. “That’s not me.” But later, when Vito Corleone is shot by thugs, Michael offers to assassinate Sollozzo and a corrupt police captain. Still, though, he’s the innocent family lamb reluctantly forced to defend his dad.
Toward the end of Part One, when he returns from hiding out in Sicily and reconnects with Kay, it’s clear that now he’s head of the family, and orchestrating the Corleone empire’s vast criminal enterprise. He insists to her, though, that “in five years we’ll be completely legitimate.” The messy unfolding in the sequel, however, makes it clear that Michael’s developed a lust for power. Also, his bloodthirst for revenge will keep him locked forever in a state of lawlessness. He’s never going to change. In the movie’s tragic close, Connie begs him to forgive the pathetic Fredo. “He’s so sweet, Michael; he’s so helpless. Please!” Michael feigns a reconciliation, but has already ordered a hit on his own older brother.
Now to the moment in question. Kay, heartbroken at how her husband is locked into this amoral pattern, has divorced him. In a dramatic showdown over custody of the kids, she informs him that her recent miscarriage wasn’t that at all. With tears in her voice she declares: “It was an abortion, Michael. An abortion. It was a little boy, and I had him killed because THIS MUST ALL END!!”
It’s an awful moment, and the final credits roll as Michael sits alone and brooding on the porch of his highly guarded Tahoe mansion, looking out over the preternaturally calm waters. Out on the lake, crumpled in the bottom of a fishing boat, is Freddy’s corpse.
The Bible guarantees that evil will be overcome, not eternally borne in an endless stalemate between light and darkness. “This Must All End!”
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.