From the opening wedding sequence, to Vito Corleoneâ€™s funeral, to the baptism scene, rituals are an integral part of The Godfather. Through the use of film elements and lighting, Francis Ford Coppola uses these scenes in order to illustrate character development and foreshadow character conflicts. These ceremonies also serve to establish the key themes of the film, as well as convey the Mafia life in a personal light. Furthermore, the relationship between the Corleone traditional family and the Corleone Mafia family is highlighted in these sequences. The services also connect to each other in the way that they are presented and the ideas that are introduced.
In the opening scene of the movie, the camera pulls back slowly from the face of Bonasera, an undertaker, and member of the family. In this long take, low key lighting utilized, indicating the darkness of the situation, and suggesting that the matter at hand involves Mafia business. Zooming out further, the camera shows a blurry outline of Vito Corleoneâ€™s hand, face, and desk, enough to demonstrate that he is sitting behind the desk. Corleoneâ€™s power is demonstrated by the way that Bonasera speaks to him, and since he is the man behind the desk. Bonasera asks Coreleo for â€œjusticeâ€ for his daughter, who was beaten up by her boyfriend. The Godfather (Vito Corleone) stresses that Bonasera â€œnever invited [him] to [his] house for a cup of coffee, even though [Corleoneâ€™s] wife is godmother to [his] only childâ€. The importance of family relations and expectations of following the â€œDonâ€ is stressed throughout Corleoneâ€™s dialogue.
After all of these years â€œyou didnâ€™t need a friend like me. But uh, now you come to me and you say â€“ â€˜Don Corleone, give me justice.â€™ But you donâ€™t ask with respect. You donâ€™t offer friendship. You donâ€™t even call me Godfather.