When talking about the influence ofThe Godfather, I think that one has to include the book and the film as complementing one another. The former is released in 1969, while the latter in 1972, and while both times are blurred in terms of their time frames, I think that the overall political and social significance of the work in both forms can be felt in terms of assessing the rise of the freedom in the 1960s as well as the malaise that resulted from it in the 1970s.
The idea of Don Vito Corelone holding some semblance of control and focus was relevant to a time period where freedom's countervailing force of chaos and unpredictability began to take hold in American culture. The Vietnam War, issues of race and gender identity, the economic challenges, as well as the fact that an early example of "the rise of the rest" became evident as American global might looked precarious all conspired to create an image where Don Corleone's focus seemed desirable. The Godfather might have been a nefarious fellow, but he "got things done." He was effective. He cared for his family and did not let harm come to them. At a time when disenchantment with political and social leaders emerged along with a sincere lack of knowing about the future develops with it, the focus and sense of control that Don Corelone presents is seductive to the public. At the same time, Don Corelone was counterculture enough, being a mobster, that he could be embraced even though his view of reality was quite traditional. On face value, his characterization does not fit the rebellious and dissenting nature of the time period. Yet, as the time period continues, and the reality of freedom's disenchantment becomes a part of the social milieu, there is an attraction to Don Corleone precisely because he does not take the form of the world around him and, in doing so, almost represents an air of incorruptibility in a time when there is nothing but. It is in this where I think that there is social and political relevance to Puzo's protagonist and Coppola's rendering of him.