A Hollywood Classic with an Incredible Truth
First, let me explain the incredible lapse in time between posts. I was overwhelmed with a variety of responsibilities both here in the parish as well as in my different assignments for work at the Archdiocesan level, thereby making blogging a luxury I could not afford. In particular, December was a crushing month with the chaotic schedule of Advent and Christmas, which was only compounded by an influx in funerals and year-end details. However, thankfully, now that 2016 has arrived, it appears that things have eased up on the work front. In fact, I was able to spend New Year’s Day with some dear friends and we took the afternoon and evening to do a little movie marathon.
As my friends and I gathered for New Year’s Day, we decided to watch both The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II. We capped off the day with Part II, which in my estimation is not only the best installment in The Godfather trilogy, but is easily the runner-up for the best film of all time (Lawrence of Arabia occupying the top spot on that list). However, my reason for mentioning all of this is not to engage in the unending debate as to which tale of the Corleone crime family is the best, but rather due to the fact that I was struck once again by the famous scene between Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) and his wife, Kay (Diane Keaton).
If you have never seen The Godfather, Part II, then I recommend you stop reading this post right now and go see it as soon as humanly possible. However, for those of you have seen it, you may recall that towards the end of the film, Kay reveals to her husband that she had an abortion. The scene still packs quite a punch, though I imagine it must have been even more astonishing when the movie premiered in 1974 not even two years after Roe v. Wade. The exact line in which Kay tells Michael she had an abortion is as follows:
It wasn’t a miscarriage, it was an abortion. An abortion, Michael. Just like our marriage is an abortion — something that’s unholy and evil. I didn’t want your son, Michael. I wouldn’t bring another one of your sons into this world. It was an abortion, Michael. It was a son; a son, and I had it killed because this must all end.
As I said, pretty powerful stuff. However, as I watched the film with my friends last night, I realized that it would be absolutely impossible for this line to be spoken in a major Hollywood production today. Even if by some minor miracle one could find a writer willing to write this line, an actress willing to deliver it, an editor willing to keep it, and a studio executive willing to release it, there’s no way the film would go on to garner critical acclaim and win Oscars. Yet, The Godfather, Part II was able to do precisely all of these things even though I imagine it was made almost exclusively by people who today (and perhaps even then) would define themselves as pro-choice.
The question to ask, especially as we draw near to the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, is why could such a line make it into The Godfather, Part II without controversy and today not have any hope of being heard by audiences? I suspect the answer is to be found in just how corrosive evil is to a culture. Abortion is a great evil that has ravaged our land for the better part of half a century. At first, we were still able to sense and feel the evil, but now we’ve become so numb to it as a culture that we choose to ignore it and hide it as much as possible. The people who are suffering from abortion, though, deserve better than our silence. We need to speak the truth about abortion with clarity–the exact kind of clarity one finds in The Godfather, Part II–in order for people to once again feel the horror of abortion and begin to treat the cause of our nation’s unarticulated pain.