The Godfather Script PDF Download: Plot, Quotes, and Analysis (2022)

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(Video) The Godfather Analysis – The Rise and Fall of Michael Corleone [Corruption Character Arc Explained]

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Written by Mario Puzoand Francis Ford Coppola

Mario Puzo was an American novelist, author, and screenwriter who was born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Throughout his career, Puzo wrote dozens of scripts, books, and short stories; many of which involved the Mafia: including The Godfather and The Sicilian.

Francis Ford Coppola is an American filmmaker who was one of the forefront faces of the Hollywood New Wave. Ford Coppola began his career in Hollywood as a screenwriter before rising to prominence in 1972 with The Godfather.

Other notable Coppola scripts: The Godfather: Part II,The Conversation, andApocalypse Now.



Here is the story structure for The Godfather screenplay:


Vito Corleone, the “Don” and “Godfather” is hosting a wedding reception for his daughter Connie. As is Sicilian tradition, Vito takes meetings with the wedding’s guests. His four sons: Sonny, Fredo, Tom, and Michael intermingle with the wedding guests as well.

Inciting Incident

The Corleone men go to pay respects to Don Vito’s consigliere, “right-hand man” Genco, who is lying on his deathbed. Genco dies and Don Vito’s adopted son Tom inherits the job.

Plot Point One

Tom is sent to California to deal with Hollywood producer Jack Woltz, who is interfering with the family’s business. Although initially rejected, Tom is able to control Woltz by placing the severed head of his prized horse in his bed.

Plot Point Two

Don Vito is offered a business proposition from a rival associate named Sollozzo that would allow the Corleone family to enter the drug trade. Vito’s eldest son Sonny encourages him to accept the deal, but he rejects.

Rising Action

Don Vito is set up by his bodyguard and shot by Sollozzo’s men. Sonny commandeers control of the family’s business operations. Sollozzo approaches Tom with a truce, but only if he’s able to convince Sonny to accept the initial business deal.

Rising Action Two

Michael becomes increasingly involved in the family business while Sonny becomes more and more of a loose-cannon. Sollozzo asks for a meeting with Michael, which he accepts.


Michael assassinates Sollozzo and his police-contact during the meeting, then flees the country.

Rising Action One

Sonny nearly beats Connie’s husband Carlo to death after learning that he’s been abusing her.

Rising Action Two

Don Vito is released from the hospital. Shortly after, Sonny is murdered. Don Vito then organizes a meeting between “the five families” of the Mafia to offer an end to the bloodshed. The families agree to stop the war.

Build Up

Michael marries a young woman named Appolonia while hiding out in Italy. The two plan to hide out until it’s safe to return to America, but she’s killed by Michael’s supposed bodyguard Fabrizio before they can.


Years later, Don Vito dies while tending to his garden. Michael marries Kay and re-engages a war on the five families of New York.


Michael is ordained as the Godfather of Connie and Carlo’s son. Just after the ceremony, Michael reveals that he knew Carlo was involved in Sonny’s death and has him executed. Michael also has the heads of the five families murdered.


Connie approaches Michael in hysterics, alleging that he killed Carlo; a notion that he strongly denies. Kay then confronts Michael and demands that he tell her whether or not he had a role in Carlo’s death. Michael lies and tells her he did not.

The Godfather Script Takeaway #1

Characters inThe Godfather

How does The Godfather masterfully pull off the transfer of power from one character to another? In the beginning, Michael couldn't be further away from his father and the family business. Don Vito hopes that his youngest son would one day assume the throne but Michael wants nothing of it.

Later, after Don Vito is gunned down, it is Michael that steps up and takes his first steps towards becoming the Godfather. This process truly begins in this scene, as power is contested between Tom and Sonny, but it is Michael who ends up wearing the crown.

In this video, watch how Coppola uses simple character blocking and staging to communicate this power dynamic visually. Its scenes like this that make The Godfather one of the best gangster movies ever made.

The Godfather • How to Direct Power • Subscribe on YouTube

At its core, The Godfather is a film about the transfer of power and the effect it has on all parties involved.

This next scene takes place after Michael returns to New York from Sicily, after he’s killed Sollozzo, and after he’s lost a wife to violence. This sobering interaction between Vito and Michael is bursting with emotion and thematic weight. It plays on the philosophical question of destiny, and the sociological quandaries of corruption in power.

(Video) Analyzing the Most POWERFUL Scene in the Godfather Trilogy

The Godfather Script PDF Download: Plot, Quotes, and Analysis (7)

The Godfather Characters • Plot Building • Read Full Scene

The questions at the scene’s core ask: Was it ever possible that Michael could be a doctor, a lawyer, or a senator? Was he always destined to be the next Godfather? And what does it mean to be the Godfather?

The scene doesn’t give us all the answers to these questions though; instead, it just leaves us with a unifying message from Vito, “You are like me, we refuse to be fools, to be puppets dancing on a string pulled by other men.

The Godfather • "You're like me" Scene

The Godfather script was submitted to Paramount 40 pages over the agreed-upon max. As such, the script had to be re-worked every day on set. In the film version of this scene, much of the dialogue is different than it was on the page.

However, the same intent and nuance is expertly communicated by actors Al Pacino and Marlon Brando. At the time of The Godfather’s production, Pacino was still an up-and-comer, but the world was already well aware of Brando. Despite his limited screen time,The Godfatheris still one of Marlon Brando’s best films.

According to cultural historian and author Harlan Lebo, detailed in his book The Godfather Legacy, screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown, Mission: Impossible) worked on this scene with Puzo and Ford Coppola.

If you're looking to map out a character arc like Michael Corleone, download our FREE Character Arc worksheet below.

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The Godfather Script PDF Download: Plot, Quotes, and Analysis (8)

(Video) THE GODFATHER - Commentary by Francis Ford Coppola

The Godfather Script Takeaway #2

Power in The Godfatherquotes

What makes a quote a quote, and not just another line of dialogue? Most of the time, an iconic quote expresses a key theme of a story and is delivered at an important time.

Take the line “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse” for example. This is what Don Vito says to Johnny, ensuring him that he’ll be offered a movie part that is assumed to be unattainable. Read the scene first and you'll see that the power behind that line doesn't come across on the page.

The Godfather Script PDF Download: Plot, Quotes, and Analysis (10)

The Godfather Quotes • An Offer He Can’t Refuse • Read Full Scene

As written, this iconicGodfather quote could have been delivered in any number of ways. In the hands of lesser actor, they might have taken that line and squeezed every bit of menace and threat into it.

But let's watch Brando's take on it. Notice that it is the ease and casualness that gives the line so much power. He is talking about threatening to kill a man as if it were nothing.

The Godfather • The Offer Scene

This quote adds to the mysticism of Don Vito and the role of “the Godfather.” It also establishes that he has considerable power, far beyond what’s expected through traditional means.

Now let’s fast forward to later in the story, to a point where Michael has inherited the powers of the Godfather. The return of the "an offer he can't refuse" line now connects father and son.

The Godfather Script PDF Download: Plot, Quotes, and Analysis (11)

The Godfather Quotes • Michael's "An Offer He Can’t Refuse” • Read Full Scene

Now watch the final scene in the film. Michael delivers the line just as casually as his father did, aligning them and their temperaments perfectly. You can imagine how differently hothead Sonny would've read the line — it's that same outward anger that got him killed.

The Godfather • Michael Makes an Offer

This quote serves to connect Don Vito and Michael, and unite them under the banner of “the Godfather.”

Here are some other great quotes from The Godfather script:

“You don't think to call me Godfather; instead you come to my house on the day my daughter is to be married and you ask me to do murder...for money.”

“You are looking at six hundred thousand dollars on four hoofs.”

“Would you like me better if I were Ingrid Bergman?”

“A Sicilian message: Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.”

“Sonny, it's all personal, and I learned it from him, the old man, the Godfather.”

“Forget about Mikey; he's no good for you, anymore.”

“Consigliere, arrange a meeting with the heads of the five families...this war stops now.”

“Governments only protect men who have their own individual power."

The Godfather Script Takeaway #3

Creating a perfect ending

We’ve looked at instances of nuance within The Godfather script, but oftentimes, the most important aspect of a script is how it begins and how it ends.

In this regard, The Godfather plot is rock-solid, with a story-arc that’s rooted in a clear and purposeful direction. Over the course of 130 pages, we see how an intelligent, young war-hero becomes the Capo “head” of the most ruthless crime family in the world.

The finale in which Michael has Carlo killed and the subsequent denouement show us Michael’s ascent in power and descent in morality. If you know how denouement works, you know The Godfather has a bittersweet ending.

The Godfather Script PDF Download: Plot, Quotes, and Analysis (12)

The Godfather Ending • Michael’s Ascent •Read Full Scene

When Connie confronts Michael, demanding to know whether or not he killed Carlo, he’s incredibly dismissive. When Kay asks Michael to tell the truth, to admit if he killed Carlo, he says that he didn’t.

Some have argued that Michael isn’t lying because he didn’t personally kill Carlo, but that’s kind of beside the point.

The Godfather • Ending

In this moment, Michael abandons his past self and quite literally closes the door on his old life; all while the tragic orchestral score from Nino Rota plays out the crowning of the new Godfather. As it turns out, Rota was responsible for several scores for the best mafia movies ever made.

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The Godfather is a groundbreaking and brilliantly made film that deals with themes of power, corruption and family with subtly and finesse. If you want to read more, we have other great titles, such as Goodfellas,The IrishmanandUncut Gemsin ourscreenplay database.Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.

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What is the main plot of The Godfather? ›

Michael, the young and idealistic son of Vito Corleone, the head of the most powerful Mafia clan in New York, returns home as a war hero and is determined to live his own life. But tragic circumstances make him face the legacy of his family.

What is the narrative structure of The Godfather? ›

While The Godfather consists of a single narrative whose chronological exposition is interrupted a few times to highlight important moments, Part II alternates between two separate stories. Rather than being used sparsely and strategically, as in The Godfather, parallel action defines the entire structure of Part II.

What is the moral of Godfather? ›

Life Lesson: It's your duty to be there for your family, regardless of the circumstances. This will help protect them while you're alive, and leave a meaningful legacy after you're gone.

What do oranges symbolize in The Godfather? ›

In Coppola's American Realism, the oranges that spill onto the street speak to the life being drained from Vito as he is shot in the street—a metaphor for the blood being spilled—and stand for the disarray of the family as well.

What is the climax of The Godfather? ›

climaxEach of the three films has a different climax. In The Godfather, it is the murder of the heads of the five families during the baptism of Connie's son and the murder of Connie's husband, Carlo. In Part II, it is the murder of Fredo. In Part III, it is the death of Mary on the opera house stairs.

Who was the killer in The Godfather? ›

Fictional character biography. Luca Brasi is Don Vito Corleone's personal enforcer, and the only man Vito himself fears. Brasi is fiercely loyal and has a reputation as a savage and remorseless killer.

What are the 4 main structural parts of a story? ›

All stories contain four elements that can determine structure: milieu, idea, character, and event.

What are the 4 narrative structures? ›

Here are four common types of narrative:
  • Linear Narrative. A linear narrative presents the events of the story in the order in which they actually happened. ...
  • Non-linear Narrative. ...
  • Quest Narrative. ...
  • Viewpoint Narrative.
8 Sept 2021

What is the famous line from Godfather? ›

1. "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." This famous phrase was actually spoken more than once.

What does the kiss mean in The Godfather? ›

The kiss is known as "Il bacio della morte," meaning "the kiss of death." In this instance, it was to signify to Fredo that he was marked for death for betraying his brother to Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg) and his right-hand man Johnny Ola (Dominic Chianese) in The Godfather Part II.

What is the theme from The Godfather called? ›

Coppola hired Italian composer Nino Rota to create the underscore for the film, including the main theme, "Speak Softly, Love".

What is the meaning of godfather in Christianity? ›

Godparents are among the most important people at a christening, who make big promises to encourage their godchild to grow in faith and commit to helping them understand how to live their life in a Christian way.

Why does The Godfather touch his face? ›

His fingers are pushed against his head—he is trying to wrap his brain around his decision. By executing his plan, he not only will be initiated into the business, but also will finally be able to feel like a part of the Corleone family by embodying the role of his father.

Why do they go to Sicily in The Godfather? ›

Michael Corleone fled New York City after starting a mafia war between Italian mob families there. He arrives in Sicily to take refuge. He falls in love with a Sicilian woman, Apollonia Vitelli.

Who does the Corleone family represent? ›

Don Corleone was inspired by real-life mob boss Frank Costello. Don Vito Corleone has similarities to several real-life mobsters, including Joe Profaci, who used his olive oil distributorship as a front for his illegal activities, and Carlo Gambino, who used a quiet, non-flashy style en route to power.

What is the main problem in The Godfather? ›

"The Godfather", the core conflict is revealed almost immediately through "The Shooting of Don Corleone". The Don presents this conflict with his refusal to participate in the drug business, the conflict of man vs. society. This decision will cause a snowball effect of future conflicts.

What is the plot of The Godfather death? ›

The plot is set in motion when a poor man looks for a godfather to take care of his thirteenth child. Death agrees to look after the boy and promises to make him rich. When the boy grows up, Death reveals to him how he can become the greatest doctor in the world.

Who killed Vito Corleones father? ›

In 1901, when Vito was ten, his father was murdered by a Sicilian Mafia boss named Don Ciccio because he refused to pay tribute to him. His older brother, Paolo, swore revenge, but was himself murdered soon after, during the funeral procession for his father.

Who killed Luca Brasi? ›

Sollozzo, after promising friendship, a job, and $50,000, then rams a knife into Luca's hand, pinning it to the bar as an assassin garrottes him from behind. With Brasi dead, Sollozzo's men were free to attempt a hit on Don Corleone without fear of Luca hunting them down later.

Who shot Fredo in the boat? ›

Death. Fredo, moments before his death at Lake Tahoe. Upon their mother's death, and at the urging of their sister Connie, Michael relented toward Fredo and seemingly offered reconciliation. However, it was only a deception to draw Fredo in so as to have him murdered by Al Neri.

Why did Fredo betray Michael? ›

Fredo later betrays Michael after being approached by Johnny Ola (Dominic Chianese), an associate of rival gangster Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg). Ola and Roth tell Fredo that Michael is being particularly difficult in business negotiations between Roth's organization and the Corleone family.

What are the 7 plot points? ›

Since there will be many plot points in a movie, I call these The Magnificent 7 Plot Points. They are: the Back Story, the Catalyst, the Big Event (we've mentioned that one), the Midpoint, the Crisis, the Climax, and the Realization. Let's start with the Back Story.

What is the plot of a story? ›

The plot of a book, film, or play is the series of events that unfolds from start to finish. The plot explains not just what happens but also the causality—how one event leads to another. In Poetics, Aristotle identified the basic form of a plot as containing three parts: a beginning, middle, and end.

What are the 5 basic plot components? ›

There are 5 elements of plot:
  • Exposition.
  • Rising Action.
  • Climax.
  • Falling Action.
  • Conclusion.

What are the 7 parts of plot structure? ›

Devised by 19th century German playwright Gustav Freytag, Freytag's Pyramid is a paradigm of dramatic structure outlining the seven key steps in successful storytelling: exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, and denouement.

What are the 5 types of plot structure? ›

Five types of plots
  • Exposition. Exposition is the beginning of the story and prepares the way for upcoming events to unfold. ...
  • Rising Action. It is that point where the main problem or conflict is revealed. ...
  • Climax. ...
  • Falling Action. ...
  • Resolution.
9 Aug 2019

How do you begin a story? ›

Starting Stories: 5 Great Beginning Strategies
  1. Strategy 1: Begin with action or dialogue. ...
  2. Strategy 2: Ask a question. ...
  3. Strategy 3: Describe the setting. ...
  4. Strategy 4: Begin with background information. ...
  5. Strategy 5: Have the main character introduce himself or herself.

What is the most famous line ever? ›

Famous Movie Quotes
  • “ May the Force be with you.” - Star Wars, 1977.
  • “ There's no place like home.” - The Wizard of Oz, 1939.
  • “ I'm the king of the world!” - ...
  • “ Carpe diem. ...
  • “ Elementary, my dear Watson.” - ...
  • “ It's alive! ...
  • “ My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. ...
  • “ I'll be back.” -
21 Sept 2018

What is the very first line in The Godfather? ›

'I believe in America. ' “I believe in America.” These four words — spoken in a clipped, lilting rush over a pitch-black screen — are the first thing you hear in “The Godfather” after a short moan of music.

What does Fredo kiss mean? ›

In two key moments of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather 2 (1974), Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) kisses his brother Fredo (John Cazale) as a kind of "ocular proof" of his unspoken decision to murder him.

What does it mean to Fredo kiss someone? ›

The kiss is known as "Il bacio della morte," meaning "the kiss of death." In this instance, it was to signify to Fredo that he was marked for death for betraying his brother to Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg) and his right-hand man Johnny Ola (Dominic Chianese) in The Godfather Part II.

Did Michael have Fredo the kiss of death? ›

In film. 1974 The Godfather Part II produced, directed, and co-written (with Mario Puzo) by Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Corleone gives his brother Fredo Corleone the kiss of death after he discovers Fredo's betrayal.

What does mattresses mean in The Godfather? ›

Here I'll explain why "To The Mattresses", a phrase used in the movies The Godfather and You've Got Mail. Both refer to a fight, a struggle, using ruthless tactics, or taking a war-like stance.

What does Godfather talk about? ›

It is the first installment in The Godfather trilogy, chronicling the Corleone family under patriarch Vito Corleone (Brando) from 1945 to 1955. It focuses on the transformation of his youngest son, Michael Corleone (Pacino), from reluctant family outsider to ruthless mafia boss.

What does cannoli mean in The Godfather? ›

Critics and scholars have long debated the meaning of “Leave the gun, take the cannoli”. Some say it refers to keeping violence and negativity in the past — take only the “sweet” things with you into the future. Perhaps, but the movie only gets bloodier after that scene. A lot bloodier.

What is a female godfather called? ›

A male godparent is a godfather, and a female godparent is a godmother. The child is a godchild (i.e. godson for boys and goddaughter for girls).

Why is God called father in the Bible? ›

According to Marianne Thompson, in the Old Testament, God is called 'Father' with a unique sense of familiarity. In addition to the sense in which God is 'Father' to all men because he created the world (and in that sense 'fathered' the world), the same God is also uniquely the law-giver to his chosen people.

Who is God father? ›

male godparent A godfather is a man who promises to help bring up a child in the Christian faith.

Is Luca Brasi a demon? ›

The midwife, who describes Brasi as an unholy demon, went to Don Corleone for protection, and he covered up Brasi's crime. With this, the Don earned Brasi's undying service and loyalty.

How did Vito become Don? ›

Vito lived in New York City for many years where he married his wife Carmella, and had his four children, Santino (Sonny), Fredo, Michael and Constanzia (Connie). Vito became "the godfather" when he murdered a man who was intimidating and stealing from Vito's neighbors.

What illness does Michael Corleone have? ›

Zasa later wiped out most the Commission, yet Michael and his old friend Don Altobello escaped. Michael had a diabetic stroke, and whilst incapacitated, Connie gave Vincent and Al Neri the go-ahead to kill Zasa.

Who betrayed Michael Corleone in Italy? ›

When Michael Corleone fled to Sicily to escape the American authorities, Calò and his friend Fabrizio were assigned to protect Michael. The three developed a close bond of friendship until Fabrizio betrayed Michael, attempting to kill him in an explosion that claimed the life of Michael's wife Apollonia.

Did Apollonia love Michael? ›

Marriage. Michael and Apollonia on their wedding night. Apollonia had a loving marriage with Michael, albeit a very short one. She had also taken some traits that her parents had worried about in the first place; that she was beginning to distance herself from her Sicilian roots.

Why does Michael Corleone have a black eye in Italy? ›

The punch to Michael's face broke his cheek bone which gave him a permanent black eye (and caused his sinuses to continually run - hence the use of a handkerchief all the time) until he got back to America and had surgery to fix it (Freddie says, "that doctor did a good job.")

Why is family so important in The Godfather? ›

The Corleones believe that family is the most important of all social units. This suggests that they want to choose loyalty to blood family over loyalty to the crime Family.

Who betrayed the family in The Godfather? ›

Ultimately, Tessio betrays Michael by helping arrange his assassination at a peace summit with Barzini and Philip Tattaglia. The summit will be held in Tessio's fiefdom in Brooklyn, where Michael will presumably be safe. In return, Tessio was to inherit the Corleone family upon Michael's death.

Is Mary Corleone in love with her cousin? ›

Mary is sheltered from the violent world of the Corleone crime family. She falls in love with her cousin, Vincent Mancini, Sonny Corleone's illegitimate son.

Why was The Godfather so controversial? ›

Controversy surrounded the film from the beginning: Soon after Paramount Pictures announced its production, the Italian-American Civil Rights League held a rally in Madison Square Garden, claiming the film would amount to a slur against Italian Americans.

Who kills the Don in The Godfather? ›

Letting himself in through a rooftop doorway, he descends to Fanucci's apartment and partially unscrews a lightbulb to hide his presence. When Fanucci arrives and fixes the bulb, Vito shoots him three times, the sounds of gunfire masked by the carnival outside and by a rolled-up towel Vito uses as a makeshift silencer.

Who betrays the family in The Godfather? ›

Ultimately, Tessio betrays Michael by helping arrange his assassination at a peace summit with Barzini and Philip Tattaglia. The summit will be held in Tessio's fiefdom in Brooklyn, where Michael will presumably be safe. In return, Tessio was to inherit the Corleone family upon Michael's death.

What impact did The Godfather have on society? ›

The Godfather elevated mob movies to high art, paving the way for the street-level gangsters of Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets and Goodfellas, the suburban family crimes of The Sopranos, and the original sinners of Boardwalk Empire.

Is Michael Corleone a hero or villain? ›

Upon his father's death, Michael succeeds him as the don of the Corleone crime family. In June 2003, Michael Corleone was recognized as the 11th most iconic villain in film history by the American Film Institute, although some critics consider him to be a tragic hero.

Why did Michael Corleone become the Don? ›

Soon after taking over day-to-day control of the family, Michael tries to buy out casino owner Moe Greene's stake in his Las Vegas casino, intending to move his family to Nevada. Greene angrily refuses Michael's offer. Vito dies in 1955, and Michael officially becomes Don.

Do Italians like Godfather? ›

Despite The Godfather recycling stereotypes that were offensive to Italian Americans, the movie's underlying theme is family, love, loyalty which makes Italian Americans proud of The Godfather.

Who kills Mary in The Godfather? ›

After her brother's debut concert, the assassin Mosca tries to kill Michael. One bullet grazes Michael's shoulder, but the other accidentally hits Mary in the torso, fatally wounding her. Michael is devastated by Mary's death, and screams in torment while cradling her dead body.

Who killed Vito's dad? ›

Don Ciccio murdered Vito's father, Antonio Andolini, after the hot-headed Andolini refused to give tribute, which was seen as a great insult to the Don.

Why did Tessio betray Michael? ›

Betrayal. Tessio seals his fate by relaying Barzini's deal to Michael. Tessio thought more of Vito's younger son Michael than Clemenza or Tom Hagen did, but never believed he was powerful enough to keep the family going after he was named his father's heir.

Who killed Fredo? ›

Death. Fredo, moments before his death at Lake Tahoe. Upon their mother's death, and at the urging of their sister Connie, Michael relented toward Fredo and seemingly offered reconciliation. However, it was only a deception to draw Fredo in so as to have him murdered by Al Neri.

Did Clemenza betray Michael? ›

While Tom Hagen initially suspected Clemenza of being the one who would betray Michael to Don Emilio Barzini's alliance, Michael reasoned that the more cunning Tessio was the culprit. Clemenza's strongest attribute to the Corleones was his stubborn loyalty, not his intelligence.


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