apollonia corleone

Apollonia doesn’t meet Antonio Andolini, now Vito Corleone, until a week after she arrives in America. Their first meeting takes place at the wedding ceremony thrown by Michael’s side of the family. Michael was initially against the idea of having another lavish Sicilian ceremony, but the rest of the family won’t hear it and Michael reluctantly goes along.

The ceremony serves a dual purpose: to celebrate Michael’s new marriage and to welcome Apollonia to the United States. It’s not the official wedding, but it is treated as such. Michael wears the same suit, and Apollonia wears the same dress.

Apollonia is still experiencing culture shock at her second wedding. One of the first things Michael did was to take Apollonia to Times Square, where she had never seen such tall buildings or so many people in one place. And the women wore so much makeup! American life is still so alien to her.

She doesn’t speak much at this wedding, and doesn’t recognize 95% of the people there. So much money and presents from complete strangers! She never leaves her husband’s side, for his was the most familiar face in this crowd.

Apollonia didn’t realize the level of fame the Corleones had in the States. Various cameramen go up to her without warning, their bright lights making her flinch as they take her picture.

There were mob bosses back in Sicily, but Don Corleone would be the first that she met personally. She’s intimidated at the thought of meeting him, and her imagination runs wild as she speculates what kind of man he is. Michael showed her some pictures, and Vito looked stern.

Vito was away for business, which is why this anticipated meeting was delayed. As Vito walks toward his son and daughter-in-law, Apollonia holds Michael’s hand to a near death-grip.

Before he speaks, Vito smiles and speaks in Sicilian. “You must be Apollonia.”

His smile reassures her, and she loosens her grip. She’s overcome with relief that he’s friendlier than his pictures suggested, and she smiles with her teeth for the first time at the wedding. “You must be Vito.”

“You poor thing, you must be so nervous. I remember when I first came to the New World. I was afraid to make eye contact with the other guy. You’re lucky to have Michael as a guide though this…”, and Vito looks around and waves his hand, gesturing towards the event. “…wilderness.”

When they’re not dancing, Vito sits at the table with the bride and groom, with the three speaking almost entirely in Sicilian about how they met, Apollonia’s first days in America, as well as Vito’s first days in America.

2

When Michael Corleone dies at the end of The Godfather Part III, he is sitting almost exactly where he was standing when Apollonia was killed in the first film.

Apollonia dies about 2 hours into the first film and we don’t really hear her mentioned ever again in the trilogy until an hour and a half into the third film when Michael has his flashback as he contemplates the Mary/Vincent relationship. They spent the entire second half of Part III reminding us about Apollonia- the woman who accidentally died in Michael’s place- and tying her in to Mary’s storyline in order to prepare us for when Mary will accidentally die in Michael’s place.

After Mary is killed, we get the montage of Michael dancing with the 3 women: Mary, then Apollonia, and finally Kay. The cut from Michael dancing with Mary to the clip from the first film of him dancing with Apollonia at their wedding brings the whole thing home. But putting him just a few feet from where he watched Apollonia die for his own death, that complete the full circle of this whole violent tragedy.

As the wife of a mob boss, Apollonia Corleone makes sure she is well-dressed. She’s a perfectionist about her clothes, makeup, and what suits her. She’s even somewhat noted as a style icon. Any husband that wasn’t Michael Corleone would probably scoff and call her high-maintenance. But while Michael is sometimes frustrated with how much time she spends on her looks, he understands the importance of appearing legitimized and knows that it could only benefit their enterprise. Michael even goes out of his way to buy cosmetics and clothes for his wife, and makes note of all of her products and measurements.

Legend has it a man made snarky jokes to Michael about his wife being high-maintenance because she put so much work in her appearance.

Michael cooly replied, “With all due respect to your wife, would you want HER looking like a fucking mess?”

The man stammered and tried to backpedal as Michael looked at him with contempt, never breaking his gaze.