… a conscious effort to inscribe this “Trek” in the storytelling traditions popularized by Joseph Campbell, in which heroes must suffer loss and abandonment before they rise to the occasion. The filmmakers admit that this is a deliberate homage to their favorite films, like “Superman,” “Star Wars” and “The Godfather Part II.”


From the New York Times via The New Republic’s Plank blog. The article in question discusses what J.J. Abrams has in mind for his reboot of the Star Trek franchise.

The quote is stupid because, as the Plank item points out, Godfather II ends with Michael Corleone’s soul and family in ruins: he is corrupted and he is alone. The Godfather films aren’t about someone being tested and rising to the occasion; they’re about someone getting pulled in, just like it says in that goofy line from Godfather III  (you know, “they keep pulling me back in!”). Michael Corleone isn’t young Luke Skywalker or Clark. He isn’t callow and in need of challenge. From the start, he is a born leader, a paragon of competence and nerve, a decorated war hero and cool-headed tactician. He is the dream self-image of Mario Puzo, that poor shambling yutz who wanted to pretend he was hard, compact and capable. Corleone starts as a hero and always has the gifts of a hero, but he loses his way morally. This process begins, for all reasons, because he loves his father, who happens to be a Mafia chieftain. And that tragedy is the whole point of the Corleone story.

Doesn’t this matter? Can’t J.J. Abrams and the New York Times demonstrate some understanding of one of the most famous movies of our time? The story has nothing to do with Joseph Campbell. Nothing! If you want to feel important while talking about the Godfather films, just say “Shakespearean.” Go ahead, it feels good. You won’t be adding anything, but neither will you be demonstrating your ignorance.

UPDATE:  Another point.  Godfather II begins with Michael Corleone already in his father’s place, a man with wife, kids, and responsibilities. It’s in the first Godfather film that he’s a young man whose life is taking form. Mr. Abrams and the New York Times couldn’t even pick the right film to get confused about.

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