The Godfather – Horse head scene analysis
The scene opens with a chilling serenity. The sun is rising, the big house is empty and the birdsong clashes with the sinister music. The audience has a sense of confusion and expectancy, we are waiting for something to happen. The shots of the house and the sleeping person makes us think and we question what is going on. Nothing is explained.
Two main themes we identify in this scene are violence and punishment. The way Mr Woltz is portrayed suggests to the audience that he is not a nice man, and we draw this from his incredible wealth, and the fact that he sleeps alone and has no one to share it with. From this we conclude that what is done to him is a punishment. And we know that those who punished have a violent ruthless nature, from the extremity of the punishment. Other themes are Italy and rivalry. The Italian music is a giveaway, to those who haven’t seen the whole film, that the story may be based in or about Italian culture, and the severed horses head suggests mafia involvement.
Woltzs’ character is hard to analyse in this short scene as we don’t see much of his action. However, from what we are told, we get the sense that he is a materialistic money obsessed man. He has an obscenely big house, which, from what we can tell, he doesn’t share, based on the fact he sleeps alone. We draw from this the fact he is a cold hearted business man.
In regards to sound, music is the main factor. The scene opens with sinister Italian sounding music, along with birds chirping which clashes and creates a sense of dark serenity and a mood of expectancy. The birdsong sets the scene, we know its morning. The music changes when we first see Woltzs’ figure in bed, which changes the atmosphere to that of suspense. The music builds and becomes louder and more layered as the camera zooms in on Woltz, and also as we get nearer to finding out what is in his bed. This creates panic. The music stops abruptly as the horses head is revealed so that we can hear Woltzs’ cry.
The scene opens with an establishing shot of our subject’s house, to set the scene and inform us of his financial situation. It pans to show the extremity of the house, then zooms in on our subject. We are now in the house focusing on Woltz and zoom into him from above, creating tension, and lets us know something bad is about to happen to him, as he is in a vulnerable position. As Woltz discovers he is covered in blood he pushes his sheets further down and the audience see this through a tracking shot which reveals the image to us as Woltz would be discovering it. The last shot of the clip is extremely long, straight on at his house to show how far his screams are travelling.