The Godfather (1972)
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This is one of those films that made me wonder why I hadn't seen it earlier. The acting from everyone involved is great, Marlon Brando comes across perfectly as the head of the family, and James Caan and Al Pacino are excellent as his sons. The soundtrack by Nino Rota is also very memorable, bringing back memories of the film every time I hear it. The plot has to be excellent for it to get ten out of ten, and it is, it's far from predictable and the film is the definition of a great epic.
The film is pretty shocking in the way every death occurs almost instantaneously, and as it spans ten years so many different things happen and every minute of it is great entertainment. It's a well-made and entertaining film that is only the first part of a trilogy, but it stands on its own as a wonderful film in its own right. If you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for? This was one acclaimed film that didn't disappoint.
The acting was simply amazing, what else could you say. What could be more appealing to people(even today) than watching actors like Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, James Caan, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire and Robert Duvall. This is like heaven for someone who is a fan of movies. With this movie Brando was able to bring himself back into the limelight. His performance as the godfather alone is iconic. His character has been recreated so much in films that it has almost if it has not already become a cliché. His performance though was not a cliché. His performance was subtle and breathtaking. It was so genuine and realistic that it was not just probably but definitely more genuine than Marlon Brando himself. Al Pacino was perfect for this film as well. What a way to start up your career. His character was all about depth and he displayed it perfectly. He was able to display his own inner-battles in his mind as well as the battles he had with his family, friends and enemies. His character was more of a psychological character study than anything else to me. Robert Duvall to me was the glue to the movie. He added a different perspective to everything in just that he was not Italian yet having the respect of the mafia. His character is a man of high authority within the Corleone family who was listened to and insightful;. This was simply perfect giving the film great balance throughout. The rest of the cast was just icing on the cake.
The writing was phenomenal and breathtaking. As mentioned before there has been no movie quoted more than this. It is not even the quotes though that makes the writing in here so perfect. It is the symbolism and meaning that went into every scene. There are countless symbols, messages and lines in here that are so memorable yet it is as realistic as a movie could get.
The directing by Coppola was perfect as well. Not many movies can be 3 hours and yet maintain a good level of interest from the audience like The Godfather. Coppola deserves credit for this. The symbolism and messages that went into every scene also has to do with the directing not just the writing. The movie is so well edited and strung together that the only word that could come to my mind is perfection.
The cinematography and music were perfect. The score of this movie is one of the most memorable ever. If you were to hear it you could identify it right away. The cinematography was what actually really drove this movie. The Godfather seems to have this mystique to it, it gives you the feeling you are watching something truly remarkable.
The horse's head, the scene of Brando running with his groceries, the coffee shop scene, "I'll give him an offer he can't refuse" and countless other scenes and quotes from this movie have become a part of our culture. These scenes and lines have been recycled over and over again in comedies, commercials, etc. that it is impossible to avoid the greatness of The Godfather. The Godfather is like a disease once you see it you fall in love with it. I don't know if it is the greatest movie ever but it is definitely the most iconic film ever made.
The Godfather's influence has been so big through the years that elements of it can be found in virtually every "organized crime film" nowadays; almost every comedy featuring a gangster in the last few years has spoofed something in The Godfather. The Italian-American old mobster a-la Don Vito Corleone has become one of the most established figures in the public's imagination.
But to say that The Godfather is simply "influential" is to diminish its true qualities, and so is to describe it simply as "a movie about gangsters". The Mafia is certainly the main focus the story revolves around (despite the fact that the word is never mentioned), but although the movie never tries to forcedly insert separate subjects it contains an amount of psychological and social subtexts that cannot be overlooked. Considerations on how the social environments changes us, on how moral values appear different from different point of views, on how violence can destroy a human soul, and on how power can corrupt an individual are deeply blended into a story that stays practically always true to complete realism, and the result is a picture of astonishing efficacy and believability.
As good as the direction and the story are, it would be unfair not to consider the major role that the actors' performances had in the cinematic triumph that was The Godfather. Praised by many as the best cast to ever appear in an American movie, all the cast in The Godfather succeeds in portraying complex, three-dimensional characters without ever making a slip. The exceptional portrayals of Don Vito and Michael Corleone respectively by Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, the performances by Robert Duvall, James Caan and Diane Keaton as Tom Hagen, Santino Corleone and Kay Adams, the ruthless Virgil Sollozzo played by Al Lettieri -- as well as more than a few other roles -- are all perfect for the movie, and they all succeed in making us believe these are real people, not just actors. We are not watching a central character and a bunch of incomplete figures that revolve around him: although Michael Corleone is the character that gets the most screen time, everybody is the center of this world his own way. The movie makes it possible for the viewers to identify with different characters and to observe how their personality and story fits in, and it does it much more effectively than many bloated multiple-storyline movies that came out in the last few years.
The movie opens on the wedding of Don Vito Corleone's daughter, Connie (Talia Shire). Don Corleone is a powerful man, and it was not without the use of violence that he achieved this position during the course of his life. The wedding scene gives a perfect setting of where and how the Don's power extends; from the regular worker in a neighborhood, to the immensely popular singer, to the friends in politics and right to the ruthless killer, Don Corleone has links to people ready to ask him favors and to pay him back. Some are trustworthy, some are not, but thanks to his intelligence and intuit the Don can almost always distinguish the two.
However, this is 1946, times are changing, and to many of the younger people working in the crime business, Don Corleone's ideas are becoming obsolete. The Don believes that the new trend in the business, narcotics, is too dangerous and the families dealing with it would eventually end up self-destroying; while his family had deals in alcohol and gambling for a long time, part of the Government and law enforcement was ready to close one eye. Drugs are another thing.
To this day, Don Corleone was able to keep things together while maintaining his economic and political power, but things will brutally change when a powerful drug dealer name Sollozzo enters the picture. The refusal of Don Corleone to cooperate with Sollozzo, and a weakness immediately spotted by the latter, will ignite a war that will cost many lives, and that will see Michael Corleone, Vito's younger son and the one who never wanted to take part in the family business, lose his "innocence" and transform into a gangster as ruthless as the people he initially stood up against.
I purposely decided not to spoil much about the plot because I believe that the film is perfectly enjoyed without knowing anything in advance, and -- believe it or not -- there are still quite a lot of people who have never seen this movie. There are multiple scenes that manage to create an incredible tension, various twists, and although like any other masterpiece The Godfather can be watched knowing the whole story beforehand and still be a phenomenal experience, I believe it is always a pleasure to see it for the first time and enjoy its multiple climaxes. Besides, to outline such complicated characters and such an emotionally intense story in a short review like this one would be inadmissible.
There has been much speculation on how the events in The Godfather novel written by Mario Puzo, the book the film is based on, could be an exposé of true facts. Many believe that the character of Johnny Fontane , for instance, was based on Frank Sinatra's real life, and many of the other characters were modeled after real people. I won't go into that: frankly, I have no idea whether these voices are reliable, although the Frank Sinatra reference seems obviously quite believable.
The cinematography of The Godfather is dark and tasteful, and colors are used perfectly to give a true feel of the era it is set in. There is a fair amount of violence, though rarely gratuitous.
The Godfather certainly doesn't need my recommendation. The film is universally considered one of the best of all time, and the performances by Pacino and Brando alone is the stuff of legends.
To make a true epic, you need all of three following ingredients working in near perfect harmony. For screenwriters who come across this, take the following pointers on board: 1) Contrasting Characters: Good films have some character distinction, but most fall rather flat because the core of each character is the same.
Of course, there are exceptions to rule (ie... where you want mono-tonal characters... aka matrix; or where you want outlandish contrasts... aka The Fifth Element), but ultimately, this is what makes films deep, meaningful and grand. Consider the contrasts between the Don's children. Michael is rather cool, rational and collected, whereas Sonny is more hot-headed, spontaneous and simple minded. But simply having these contrasts is not nearly enough. What you really need to do is to develop these characters - place them in situations - and then dwell on how their character impacts on the situation they're put in. The Godfather is a terrific example of how to pull this off. While many try to do this in screenplays, most lose the plot and create character obscurities that stretch credibility.
2) Transformation: The central character(s) must undergo a transformation, resulting in them being almost unrecognizable by the end of the film. By putting them into situations, the character's character must not only influence the outcome of the situation; it must also have a lasting impact on the character. Consider Michael at the wedding and compare that to the Michael we see at the end of the film. Again, many films try, but most fail because they come up with unreal (literally, not praisingly) or simply moronic transformations (eg, Wall Street).
3) Patience: Men in Black 2 was an astounding film for one simple reason - it was an entire film squashed into about 70 minutes. It was not much longer than an episode of ER or Buffy. I certainly hope the new goal of Hollywood isn't to make films as short as possible.
All the great ones spend time - time developing characters, family life, growth, patience with the story telling in general. This is the key (provided that the story isn't mind-numbingly boring). Dances with Wolves, Heat.. and so on are very patient but top-class films. While studios may be lukewarm on the idea of longer films, they are worth it if you have a ripper story to base it on.
I feel that this film has not dated all that much and has tremendous re-watch-ability.
With superb acting by especially Al Pacino as Mike Corleone and Marlon Brando as Don Vito corleone this movie shows how one of the head mafia families in New York works, it gives a detailed picture of how their business runs and what kinda chances they got to take on their business, for example their denial to step inside the narcotic business brings on alot of troubles, but also it shows what kinda sacrifices they make, every day could be their last day..
Al Pacino shines above all in this movie, as the smart boy of the family he returns after fighting a war for his country, at that time not involved in the family business, but it doesn't take long before the war breaks lose and he see no other ways than to step in and fight for his family.
This is definetely a "must see" masterpiece.
Particularly, John Cazale ( Fredo) and Richard Castellano ( Clemenza) give wonderfully understated performances. You just have to believe that Castellano WAS Clemenza, he brings a real touch to his role.
John Cazale brings the troubled Fredo to life, and you can see the weak Fredo desperately trying to live up to the family reputation but knowing that he can never be what his father wants.
The story of one man's reluctance to be drawn into the murky family business,and his gradual change through circumstance, paints a vivid picture of this violent period of US history.
Do not miss this film!
The film opens during the wedding of Don Vito' daughter, Connie (Talia Shire), and we see just how strong the bond of family really is. You have the family dancing with each other, drinking, laughing, and sitting next to each other to show how close they are, then we see some of the outsiders such as the Barzini family, and surprisingly Michael (Al Pacino) along with his girlfriend Kay (Diane Keaton) on the outskirts without much interaction. Michael seems almost out of place as if he is the adopted son and Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) is more apart of the family than he is. His opening words are to Kay, and they include, "That's my family, Kay. That's not me."
We get the feeling that Michael's nearly ashamed of the stigma that goes along with his last name: This is what makes Al Pacino' role- significantly- the hardest performance in the entire film to portray. He's the one doing all the heavy lifting as he has to go from outsider and completely against the family's actions and businesses to, by films end, head of the family. Brando has the teary eyed moments that actors live for, but Michael is too cold for that. Never for a second as he gradually comes to power do we think this turn is ridiculous or laughable, and in lesser hands it very easily could have been.
The final act of the film is loaded with plot points as decisions are made left and right as the film becomes visually and emotionally captivating. As the film draws to an end, Michael has gained half of the power of the family and makes most of the decisions. He's treated, not with respect, but as an outsider, too high ranking for his experience. The Corleone family is on the brink of disaster and losing everything, yet we never get that feeling. We see the two leader's confidence and we keep our confidence in them, even if the other family members doubt their decisions. Michael goes to Las Vegas and makes Moe Greene an offer he can't refuse. Then he refuses. This is Pacino' shinning moment in the film. There's no screaming or the hoopla that goes along with his name. After he treats Moe Greene like utter garbage, Fredo (John Cazale) get's upset and starts barking at him. Coppola is perfectly on his game here, too, as we watch from Fredo's height, looking down on Michael who sits in a chair as he coldly looks up with his radiating eyes, that have so much going on behind them, and simply says, "Fredo, don't ever take sides with anyone against family again. Ever."
That's some serious foreshadowing for the second film, and only after watching the second film can you go back and appreciate what Pacino and Coppola pulled off in this scene; Cazale too. We have no idea how serious Michael is. These are some of the stepping stones that make Michael's change believable. He's not quite his father- Vito has a soft spot for his children (admittedly so)- as he's capable of turning on anyone and using the line, "It's strictly business" when it comes to family issues. Michael's sister, Connie, calls him a "cold hearted bastard" at the end of the film. It's hard to find better superlatives than that, yet we still love him. The interesting thing about Pacino' performance is that he doesn't sugarcoat it. He doesn't try to make the audience love him. He plays the character as the character should be played. That's the sign of great writing; great acting; and great directing since we could have very easily seen someone try to make him likable. This crew just presents the character with all his flaws and let's us decide if we love him or hate him. Its films like "The Godfather," that made me wish I had amnesia, so I could feel the same heart pounding moments over and over again.
A saga that goes on for 9 continuous hours takes you around various walks in life of Mike (Don's younger son who become Don later), his school days, love life, personal life, family life, business life, political life and religious life. How all of these different roles Mike plays in his life and how intertwined these are.
I enjoyed watching these movies so much, I wish I had seen them much before then I did. Its amazing to see how the Part-III was made 18 years later the part-I was made and everything looks so continuous if watch them together.
I need not say much! The Godfather father trilogy been around for a while and everyone knows that they are great set of movies, its just the matter of when you actually get to see them.
Watch them! Kudos to Francis Ford Coppola! -Vishy
His film acutely details the inner workings of the criminal "families," and the ruthlessness of those in organized crime, but also examines their steadfast loyalty, love for blood relations, and code of ethics... Coppola and Puzo subtly weave a complex narrative with themes of hypocrisy, power, and corruption which stands as a pulsating reflection of our uncertain times...
With his raspy voice, deliberate movements, and penetrating stare, Brando creates a personage that will be remembered for ever... The line "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse" has reached legendary statues... Brando's Don Corleone is the moral center of the film: a tough, wise, feared old Sicilian who has risen to become an all powerful leader in an empire of Italian-American organized crime...
While crime may be the first image that comes into one's mind in the film, violence plays a vital part in this complicated tale... Brando is the head of one of the five families who are said to control the Mafia in the area of New York... He is opposed to any involvement in drugs, and refuses to risk his political contacts and prestige for such putrefied money... He is behind the time but he understands that society is not alarmed by "liquor, gambling, and even women..." He is also a loving family man... His sons, relatives and friends are part of his operations... He despises displays of weakness... He understands the strength of power and his wordless sympathy for Michael when he is forced to assume the "sovereignty." In the outdoor garden, father and son are affectionate to each other, but cannot express their emotions openly...
The Corleones are a warm, close family and the motion picture (with l0 Oscar Nominations) shows the flavor of Italian-American home life... Don Corleone is an undisputed patriarch, and as played by Brando, he has almost the manner of a religious leader... His voice is quite and rasping, his chin stands as a symbol of his authority, and men kisses his hand as they ask for his favors... He is a charismatic leader and his eyes reflect his kind heart as his implacability...
Pacino's gradual and subtle transformation is the heart of the film... From a gentle man to one of the most cunning, ruthless, and cold-blooded man ever to come on the screen, he has learned from his father never to talk in front of outsiders and always keep his own counsel... His commandment "Never to take sides against the Family."
The opening shot of "The Godfather" sets the tone of the film as Don Corleone and some of his family listen to an undertaker, Amerigo Bonasera (Salvatore Cirsitto), pleading for justice for the near-rape and brutal beating suffered by his daughter...
Attending the wedding of his sister Connie to young bookmaker Carlo Rizzi, Michael, a highly decorated Marine captain from World War II, points out the other guests to Kate (Diane Keaton), his non-Italian girlfriend... In the same time Coppola introduces us to his large cast of characters:
Sonny (James Caan), the rough, hot-headed impulsive kid who never really grew up; Fredo (John Cazale), the troubled, shy, weak young man who can't seem to do anything right; Tom (Robert Duvall), the right-hand man, the legal adviser and adopted son to the Godfather steady, reliable, always thinking, always controlled; Connie (Talia Shire), the battered wife and rebellious sister, who achieves and promotes the movie's most horrific scene; Johnny Fontane (Al Martine), the idol star whose tears set up the shocking moment when a movie "big shot" named Jack Woltz (John Marley) finds himself in an horrifying pool of blood; Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana), the giant criminal thug, one of Corleone's most trusted enforcers; Tessio (Abbe Vigoda), the fearsome tall enforcer who implies the possibility of violent revenge guaranteeing Michael's safety; and Clemenza (Richard Castellano), the other faithful enforcer...
With a beautiful score by Nino Rota immensely memorable, Coppola's motion picture remains a triumph, nearly perfect in its execution, composition, and impact...
The film opens in the immediate post-war period with the wedding of the daughter of Don Vito Corleone. Scenes of the wedding are intercut with scenes showing Don Vito himself in his study, granting favours and dispensing a crude form of justice as though he were an absolute monarch. We soon learn, however, that times are changing, even in the world of organised crime. Don Vito's empire has been based upon gambling, illicit liquor sales and prostitution. Other Mafia families, however, are eager for the profits to be made from drugs, and Corleone receives a proposal from a drug dealer named Sollozzo that the Corleone clan should join him in exploiting the narcotics market. Corleone refuses, ostensibly for business reasons, but it is made clear that his real objections to narcotics derive from his personal code of honour. Sollozzo, offended, orders an attempt to be made on Corleone's life. This fails, but Corleone is left seriously injured.
The focus now shifts to the younger generation. Don Vito has three sons, Santino ('Sonny'), Fredo and Michael, and an adopted son, Tom Hagen. These four have contrasting characters. Sonny is hot-headed and impetuous, Fredo weak, Tom cautious and moderate. Michael, the youngest, loves his family, but initially wants to play no part in their criminal enterprises. Recently returned from the war, his ambitions are to qualify as a lawyer and to settle down in a respectable life with his Anglo-Saxon wife-to-be, Kay. The attempt on his father's life, however, persuades Michael that his first loyalty is to the family, and he agrees to be part of a revenge attack on Sollozzo and Captain McCluskey the corrupt policeman who is on his payroll. There follows a brutal cycle of revenge, as each killing is avenged by another murder.
The film's emphasis on family ties, honour and vengeance recall the revengers' tragedies of the Shakespearean and Jacobean theatre. Coppola does seem to be aiming for a Shakespearean grandeur. Don Vito, the ageing monarch whose powers slip away is reminiscent of King Lear, Michael, a good man corrupted by power, of Macbeth (a comparison which will become even more apt in the later episodes of the trilogy). There is also something of Hamlet in Michael and Sonny's resolve to avenge their father. Such an ambitious film requires acting of a very high order if it is to seem credible, but Coppola was able to draw upon some of the best performances of the seventies. To my mind, this was Marlon Brando's last great role (I have never cared much for 'Apocalypse Now' and loathed 'Last Tango in Paris'), but it was one that he made the most of. His Don Vito is both terrifying and pitiable, part dictator and part lonely old man. His rasping voice (the result of an earlier bullet wound in the throat) conveys both menace and physical weakness. Don Vito may be a bad man, but he is also in a way a magnificent one, and his passing marks the end of an era.
If the film was notable for the last of the great Brando, it also saw the birth of a new star. Except perhaps for 'The Godfather Part II', I have never seen Al Pacino give a better performance than he did here, as he portrayed Michael's passage from a 'civilian' (as his brother calls him) to a warlord, from an innocent young idealist to a ruthless killer. Given the length of time that Pacino is on screen, I am surprised that he was only nominated for Best Supporting Actor rather than Best Actor. It would be interesting to speculate who might have won if he and Brando had been in competition for the award. I am even more surprised that Pacino did not win as Best Supporting Actor; Joel Grey's role in 'Cabaret' (which did win) is more showy and a technical tour de force, but it lacks the emotional depth of Pacino's performance. I also greatly admired James Caan's role as the hot-headed Sonny.
This is not a perfect film; it has flaws, both artistic and ethical. Artistically, there are places where it tends to drag, particularly after the killings of Sollozzo and McCluskey, and even more so after the killing of Sonny, although it recovers at the ending, which is a highly effective piece of cinema.
Ethically, I felt that the film tended to take the characters' world view too much at face value. Don Vito may be a dictator, but he is in his own eyes a benevolent dictator, a man of honour who lives by his own moral code. As others such as Roger Ebert have pointed out, this is a film which views a closed society from the inside; the only outsider is Kay, and her role is a relatively minor one. As a result, we do not get to see the damage that organised crime does to the fabric of society, and the Mafia's own view of itself is never openly challenged. That is not to say, however, that the film is totally amoral. We do see that an ethos of taking revenge can spiral out of control and lead to unforeseen consequences, to the innocent as well as the guilty. This is particularly true of the scenes where Michael takes refuge in Sicily after killing Sollozzo. The dead man's associates track him down, and a bomb meant for him instead kills his innocent young Italian wife Apollonia.
Although there may be no overt condemnation of the moral position of the Mafia, there is implied criticism of its bloodier deeds. All the characters, whatever the crimes of which they may be guilty, are careful to pay lip-service to the Catholic Church and its rituals. Throughout the film (indeed, throughout the trilogy as a whole) the traditional ceremonies of the Church form a backdrop to various criminal activities. ('The Godfather' begins with a wedding and ends with a baptism). It seemed to me that Coppola was using these scenes to make an ironic contrast between the values of organised crime and those of Christianity, especially at the end of the film. Michael, already a 'godfather' in the metaphorical sense of a Mafia boss, becomes one in the literal sense of a baptismal sponsor. Shots of him taking vows on behalf of his godchild to reject the works of the devil are intercut with shots of his enemies being gunned down on his orders.
Despite my reservations about this film, and although I personally would not have ranked it as my all-time favourite, there can be no denying that it is a film of great power and a milestone in the history of the cinema. 8/10
The Godfather is commonly considered to be one of the "greatest films of all time". Even though I've given it a 10, I wouldn't put that same kind of exalted emphasis on it. I've given literally thousands of films 10s over the years, and for me, Godfather just barely made a 10. I think it has a number of flaws, but Coppola also has a knack for transcending the problems with some brilliant move or another. At any rate, it is definitely must-see viewing--even if it's only because it's so highly regarded--if you've not experienced the film yet. I think it's a good idea to attain cultural literacy, and films as popularly loved as The Godfather become necessary elements in achieving that literacy.
Shorn of its gangster trappings, The Godfather is sprawling and soap-operatic in tone. The sprawl is appropriate to its origins as a novel by Mario Puzo, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Coppola. There is a large cast of characters--maybe too large, as it can be difficult to keep track of just who everyone is. Even after you've watched the film a couple times you may find scenes where mobsters seem to spontaneously appear and you catch yourself saying, "Wait, who is that guy supposed to be again?" The soap opera angle can be a positive or negative depending on your tastes. I tend to not like soap-operatic stories, but of course Coppola put yummy gangster topping on this one to make it palatable for guys like me. At root, though, The Godfather is concerned with realistic depictions of a very dysfunctional family as they try to make it through life--including marriages, births, adultery, spats between family members, tiffs with others in their community, and so on. My theory is that the soap opera angle accounts for much of the film's appeal. For me, it (and the slight lack of focus from the sprawl) accounts for much of the reason that I barely gave the film a 10.
But two things help the film transcend a lower score for me. Even though the gangster stuff has been far surpassed in graphic brutality in the intervening years, the dramatic context of the violence usually gives it tremendous impact. Films like Ichi the Killer (2001), which I just watched for the first time the night before watching The Godfather again, make the Godfather's brutality fit for Sesame Street in comparison. However, although Ichi's violence is effective, setting that knob to "11" doesn't make it better. Besides, Ichi is so over the top that it would make many Godfather fans want to hurl.
To the extent that Coppola and Puzo just focus on the extended Corleone family, they create tremendous depth in their relationships. The whole film can be looked at as a fascinating depiction of "oscillating" dynamics in the family, with the pole pairs being interacting/distancing, control/lack of control, benevolence/malevolence. Most character stances and actions are some combination of those ranges of characteristics, and everyone dances around the poles, so to speak, throughout the film. From this angle, even the attractive surface violence (well, attractive to us fans of that stuff in artworks) is mainly there for the purpose of pushing characters more to one pole or the other. There is an implication that underlying these mechanisms is some natural tendency towards achieving (a dynamic) equilibrium.
But there are more superficial stylistic factors that help push my score up to a 10, also. The most obvious, which everyone and their grandparents have mentioned, are the performances. It's tough to go wrong when you have a cast including Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, James Caan, Diane Keaton, and so on. Another commonly mentioned element that I agree is fantastic and superbly integrated to create atmosphere is Nino Rota's score.
Less often mentioned is the consistently intriguing cinematography by Gordon Willis. Most of Willis' unusual shots in the film are so subtle as to be barely noticeable unless you're looking for them. The opening, for example, consists of a long (it lasts a few minutes) "zoom out" from Amerigo Bonasera (Salvatore Corsitto). The shot is beautifully lit--most of the frame is extremely dark, giving Bonasera a chiaroscuro effect (the opening is also unusual in that it's a long monologue from a minor character).
Willis and Coppola have a knack for placing their actors in the frame to create depth and interesting visual patterns. This is done so slyly that at first blush you wouldn't believe it's something they thought about, but if you keep this in mind while watching, you can see delightful visual paths that zigzag, wind to a focal point, and so on, all created by the confluence of actors and scenery in the frame.
If you haven't seen The Godfather before, the most important thing you can do before watching is to forget about all of the "greatest film of all time" hype. That's only likely to set up expectations that could never be met; more than likely you'll be disappointed. Just think of it as one of the better films from one of Hollywood's more admirable but relatively odder directors, featuring earlier performances from a very well known cast, and keep in mind that it's as much a "historical family saga" as a crime or gangster film.
This film works so well because it takes place in an underworld in which we are so embedded that we do not even observe it. Coppola puts us straight in the smack-dab center of what is, admittedly, a society made by criminals for criminals. It is also the reason why it's so welcoming. We are surrounded by its inhabitants--cold-blooded murderers, men who see crime like a 9 to 5 job masquerading as honorable men. And I do mean men. From the outside, we would only witness the horrifying, disturbing manifestations of their well-thought out actions.
But it goes even deeper than that. It all revolves around the Corleone family led by Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). He is the most honest of these men, sitting right on the edge. But for people like him, who do not fully embrace this world, it's not easy. He avoids conflict until it is absolutely necessary. He is a man defined by moral principles. There is a scene at the beginning, in which, during his daughter's wedding day, one of his associates, Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana) practices his speech that he is going to give to the Don when he meets him. The scene with these two is funny and almost adorable. I could not help but sympathize both of them only to realize that I am feeling warmth for two mobsters. Not to even mention that Lenny Montana was an actual mob hit-man and that he was actually nervous as he said that line.
The more I watched the more I realized just how incredibly complex and ruthless this society is and how it has the power to corrupt anyone to come in contact with it. The best example is Corleone's youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino). He returns home for his sister's wedding as a war hero dressed the part with his long-time girlfriend, Kay Adams (Diane Keaton). At first, he avoids this underworld, but necessity, first-hand exposure and just its sheer devilish appealing nature draws him in. As we get further in the film, the change is shocking and every outsider who ever got close to him is tainted in one way or another. If they survive it, they are drawn in as well as we are as viewers.
Inside, Coppola exposes the family to us fully, with a bold personal approach and we witness every discussion, every methodically calculated choice. Crime is done simply because it is the nature of their business, and we are put on a chair alongside them, so we easily relate. For us, they are the good guys, the rival families are the bad guys. This is the greatest feat this film managed to pull off--set apart good guys and bad guys in a world filled with bad guys.
This is a film of unmatched subtlety. No other movie sustains itself as good. No other film is done with such precision, attention and completeness. There are many layers which I probably missed and maybe will never notice. But I felt them. What director Francis Ford Coppola and his partner in crime (poor choice of words, sorry) Mario Puzo did is nothing short of a timeless piece of reference cinema whose influence is not based on reinventing the wheel, but rather perfecting it to the absolute maximum.
Most masterpieces are remembered for their historical contributions. "Citizen Kane" brought the biggest step-up to the art form, the same things did "Gone With the Wind" or "2001: A Space Odyssey". "The Godfather" is one of the few films that will be remembered simply because they are that good and I cannot possibly imagine a greater achievement.
Sicily is one of the most beautiful places in Italy. Unfortunately Sicilians, quite friendly inhabitants of this island, the words-synonyms of Sicily are not only olives, butter and wine, but also words like omerta, vendetta and mafia. Yes, the mafia. A small bunch of bandit mackerel in Sicily, run by the Don. In the US, this word took a slightly different meaning. A huge number of gangsters who seek to conquer and rule all the States. A family is a mafia, a mafia is a family headed by a cruel and wise person who manages everything and who owns everything. Proudly and shortly - don.
Mario Puzo is a brilliant writer, rightly considered to be a recognized classic of the twentieth-century literature, having written several excellent and worthy works, the best of which is undoubtedly the novel "The Godfather". A book about the life of gangsters and revealing all the doors to the world of the mafia. Mario Puzo was a great connoisseur of human psychology, but the psychology of people who transgressed the law especially. That is why in his novel he explores each character to the depths of his soul and climbs into the most intimate corners of their thoughts.
The novel, and indeed, the film - is not a direct and reliable historical source, but, nevertheless, it contains the quintessence of the criminal world. Five families of New York Piuso wrote from the real five families of New York, Johnny Fontaine Puzo wrote from Frank Sinatra. The literature was tired of books about Al Capone and Frank Costello, and Puzo made a move to a horse-invented a criminal family that was not really there, but which subsequently won, without exaggeration, the whole world.
It often happens that the director, when stating a picture, leaves the original and is engaged in arbitrariness. Francis Ford Coppola director is no less brilliant than the rest of the directors. He squeezed everything that can be learned from the novel Puzo and put it into the film. Doing nothing without adding something new or removing something from the book, Coppola and Puzo created a masterpiece. A masterpiece in everything. Mario Puzo's book became a masterpiece of literature, and Francis Ford Coppola created the film - a masterpiece, a film - a classic that just can not help but like it. Coppola not only superbly put the film, but simply brilliantly picked up the actors. Who knows what was the fate of the film without Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. Coppola skillfully created the atmosphere of New York at the end of the forties, but also the atmosphere of family life, the life of people from Sicily.
Vito Carleone is a wise and cruel man with clear principles, a loving but stern father. Marlon Brando was just awesome dona Carleone. His character is a serious strategist who has achieved power and respect himself. Don Carleone's sad gaze, his smooth gestures, his unique voice and his unforgettable "bulldog jaw" forever blended into the image of the viewer.
Don Carleone - this is Marlon Brando - sloven and lover in life, but on the screen - a genius who embodied the image of Don Carleone - a strong spirit of a man and a cruel gangster, who has enormous authority. Vito Carleone is a very impressive person who knew how to get others to do things their own way. Marlon Brando with his game was able to make the viewer believe that before him is not just an actor playing a role, but a real person is that same severe don. Brando is a great improvisator.
Michael Carleone character is no less interesting than his father. Michael is kind-hearted and truthful, knowing what his father does, he never wanted to deal with his family and participate in criminal quarrels. Al Pacino played his character no less brilliant than Marlon Brando. Pacino showed all the destruction of the human psyche and the transformation of his hero: from the uninitiated in the affairs of the family of the young war hero, to the new Don Carleone, possessing an iron will, foresight, wisdom and dignity. Sonny Carleone is not at all like Michael and Vito. He is an impulsive warrior, but a bad strategist who prefers to go ahead, not act cunning. Coppola did not lose on the fact that he called for the role of an American from Sicily. James Caan brilliantly played the role of Sonny - a man with an explosive Italian temperament, ready to always stand up for the family.
In addition to the brilliant acting and excellent production in the film, there is the wonderful music of the composer Nina Rota. An excellent melody, fallen in love with everyone and has long become a classic.
"Godfather" is a masterpiece, an ideal gangster movie. The film without minuses, blunders and cliches, which pulls to review, even if you know it by heart. This is a classic, a gangster epic, a bible for cinephiles, giving answers to all the questions. A movie that teems with crown phrases that have long since become part of everyday life. A worthy picture, without exaggeration, is the best in its kind.
"Behind every wealth lies a crime" (c) - it is this phrase Honore De Balzac stands at the beginning of the work of Puzo. The film, if briefly, actually about it. And about the proposal, "from which you can not refuse" (c).
The most famous and the best film about organised crime is also one of the best films ever made. The plot is at once straightforward and complex, it deals with things on many levels from the action to the theme of family. The basic story is gripping and sprawling at the same time. It creates many memorable scenes and lines that have become part of the general knowledge that we all share that's why it's referred to in everything from Sopranos down to The Simpsons.
Every shot is perfectly framed and has a great sense of period throughout. From the opening speech with it's memorable lines and camera focus down to the final shot and all it implies, it is full throughout. The action is a pleasure to watch and the lines are so much more classy than more recent attempts at gangster films.
Pacino is great he not only changes before our eyes over the 3 hours but he manages it into the next film too. Brando is always a risk on any film, and when he started mumbling and filling his cheeks with cotton wool, Coppola must have worried about what was happening, but he delivers a performance that is so good that almost everyone has impersonated him at some time. The main cast is full of good performances from actors from all stages. Up and comers such as Duvall, Caan, Keaton etc are as good as more ageing icons such as Richard Conte, Sterling Haydn, Castellano etc.
In every area the film oozes class and professionalism. The look at family life is excellent and the only downside is that it can't help but glamorise organised crime people may be killed but it still looks and sounds cool. But then, if we're going to start criticising films because they glamorise violence or destruction then The Godfather comes along way down the hit list long after countless hundreds of action movies and summer blockbusters.
Overall this film will always be a classic, your Harry Potters, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings etc will come and go based on how well hyped they are but Godfather has been on most people's top 5 list for decades and will to continue to be for many more. Now that's respect.
The Godfather, however, disproves this. It is still a masterpiece, and always will be. The story-line proves once again how much the innocent public loves to view the lives of outright evil men, especially when they happen to be of the charming and charismatic variety. Let's look at the most iconic scene; a man chops off a horse's head, and leaves it in his owner's bed in order to scare him into submission. Oh yeah, he's one of the good guys though, so it's okay!
Everything is explored in the Godfather, either directly or subtly; family politics, gangland negotiation, corrupt officials, there is no part of the mafia experience that is not pictured here, taken from the viewpoint of Michael, a character whose transition from unwilling family outsider and war-hero into the don himself really gives the film a unique perspective.
Of course, for me, out of all the fantastic characters, the film is carried by Marlon Brando. There is something magnetic about his performance, a mixture of loving family man, ruthless career criminal, and sophisticated Sicilian gentleman, that is thrilling to watch. One of the all time greatest acting performances.
The direction of this film was great! Frances Fran Coppela really knows how to make a great film. Like Steven Spilberg, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, and so many others, he as list himself as one of the most greatest directors in Hollywood. He's my role model.
The acting was terrible, just kidding! :) The Acting was amazing. Marlon Brando carries the anchor of this movie, but Al Pacino holds it carefully. The cast of this movie was a good example of cast chemistry. Great Cast!
The Writing was awesome. Coppela knows what he is doing when he is writing a script to a major blockbuster hit. That's why he's my role model.
The Godfather is one my favorite films of all time. I would recommend you see this movie. It's awesome.
One needs to see this on a nice widescreen DVD because it's so beautifully photographed with tons of greens, grays and browns that are just beautiful. It makes me want to visit Italy. The only reason I personally didn't rate it as high as others was I didn't like any of the characters, and especially the hot-headed James Caan. When he got riddled with bullets and was done with, a la "Bonnie & Clyde," that was fine with me!
There isn't as much violence as people might think, if they've never seen this movie. To some, this film might be too slow, in fact. However, when the violence or something dramatic occurs it is intense and can be very brutal. Who can ever forget a guy waking up with a dead, bloody horse in his bed?!!
Like a good film noir, there is a lot of tension running throughout the Godfather films. Everybody is after somebody it seems and you never know whom to trust. That's part of the downsides of living a criminal life: constant paranoia. All this is put together nicely as we become close observers of the Corleone family, its family ties and its "business."
Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Caan, Robert DeNiro (later in the saga), Talia Shire, Diane Keaton, Sterling Hayden, Richard Conte, John Cazale, Richard Castellano, on and on - quite a cast and quite a movie. I enjoyed both sequels, too.
I am also fortunate to own "The Godfather Epic" on tape, which must be some sort of collector's item by now. It is three two-hour tapes in which Godfather I and II are sliced together and the story is presented in chronological order, instead of with all the flashbacks. It's well-done and I would have printed a review on that version, but I don't see it listed on IMDb.
For starters, while this definitely gives you some great characters and atmosphere, there's really nothing in this movie that you couldn't get from reading the book. In fact, the strength of this film comes from the way the director and actors faithfully bring the novel to life.
What's best? No question - the acting. Judged on that scale alone, it gets a 10. I cannot disagree with those who state that this combines the best acting performances in American film history. The directing and scriptwriting are also very good, worthy of at least a 9.
What's not so good? The pacing. As others have noted, this film can be boring at times. Most notably, at least for me, was the time spent showing Mike in Sicily after he shot the cop and the Turk. Other than getting married, it doesn't really show him doing much of anything, nor does it really contribute much to the story. In contrast, the book made this particular sub-plot far more interesting and relevant.
And that, at heart, is my problem. I've seen the movie and I've read the book. And I far more enjoyed the latter. The book gives all sorts of details the movie skips. For example, in the film, Al Neri is just a guy dressed up as a cop who performs as one of Mike's hit men. In the book, we learn how he went from being a good cop with a bad temper to taking over the role once held by Luca Brasi (another character who is developed far more fully in the book).
So there you have it. On the one hand, you have to intellectually acknowledge the great talent displayed in the making of this film, but on the other, I must admit it just isn't very satisfying emotionally. These characters seem cold and distant, and I never really cared much for any of them. In that respect, I much more preferred "Goodfellas". The acting wasn't as good, but the characters were far more engaging and the pacing much more lively. In short, `The Godfather' is sort of like a great, but somber, piece of music, something you can admire but not dance to.