Movies, especially those of a certain caliber, have a tendency to embed themselves into the American consciousness. The Godfather is perhaps one of the best examples of the cinema industry altering not only the general perspective of American society, but society itself.

The American mafia, before The Godfather, was a loosely affiliated crime organization primarily composed of uneducated but ambitious criminals. As viewed by the American public, the American mafia was nothing more than a group of thugs running rampant in the criminal underground.

The Godfather changed this in two ways. Foremost, it romanticized the image of the American mafia and made them compelling, slick, educated and dramatic. The American public now saw then as anti-heroes bound by a specific moral code. But even more dramatically, The Godfather changed the mafia itself. The mafia, after seeing this film and the public response to it, began to emulate its style and ideals.

In response to The Godfather, the American mafia began to dress differently, act differently and follow a code. In return, this validated the public’s new perception of them. The success of The Godfather did not just publicize the mafia, it actively changed it in its own image. In this manner it showed the strength of cinema as a catalyst for change.

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