The "Godfather" Trilogy Apr 26, 2018 9:52:27 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Apr 26, 2018 9:52:27 GMT -5
The Godfather (1972)
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Marlon Brandon (right) in The Godfather.
The question everyone will likely ask me upon viewing the lengthy and heavily-celebrated Godfather I will not answer. That question is "is it really the greatest film of all time?" I can't answer it. I'm in no position to, nor have I seen every film ever made to correctly state that. How can you say what the greatest film of all time is if you haven't seen literally every film ever made? That question will never be answered. If you polled a million people, the question would still be answered with subjectivity. There is no possible way to define what is the greatest film of all time without any subjective input. It can't be done.
I will say The Godfather is an important film. Perhaps the greatest, but definitely one of the most important in the history of the art form. Its depiction of the mob, to my knowledge, is dead on, and runs like a stage play or opera at opus length. It is three hours long, and I recommend two or even three sittings before you finish it. To take it in all in one sitting is difficult, not just because of length, but because of content. It is five minutes shy of three hours and feels every bit as long. It's not a problem, since the film immerses you with intricate visuals, dialog, and its casual glide of events, but it makes for a sometimes testing excursion.
Everyone knows the story, so I won't go into it. Basically, we follow the Corleone family, an Italian mob run by Don Vito, played with unmatchable talent by Marlon Brando, after his daughter Connie (Shire) is married to Carlo Rizzi (Russo). After that, we see dramatic events following the wedding and run-ins with other gang outlets, fights, and lengthy monologues involving the family.
I grew up on Scorsese's mob flicks, and one who has will find a grand difference between Scorsese's portrayal of mob life and Francis Ford Coppola's portrayal. For one, Scorsese's mob films, of course we're primarily speaking of Goodfellas, were more about exploiting the lifestyle, with an outsider looking into the action, who would eventually become one of them. In contrast, Coppola brings us right into the lifestyle, not from an outsider's perspective, but from the perspective of many different family members. Don Corleone is not the main character in the film. Nor is Carlo Rizzi. Surprisingly, Al Pacino's Michael is the one who lifts most of the picture off the ground in terms of characters.
Pacino is outstanding. Every scene he's in, he possesses an undeniable screen presence that is equal parts ominous and electrifying. Brando brings a unique sense of direction to the screen as well. He seems calmer, more confident than any mob boss I've seen portrayed before. It doesn't seem like he needs to hammer home the idea he is the boss. He believes without a shadow of a doubt everyone knows it, and if they don't, they soon will.
The Godfather, like many classics, shows signs of age. It has a dated look to it, where all its colors appear to be washed out. It doesn't bother me, but I've heard others complain heavily. Some even find it to be "overrated" and boring. I don't really see it as that, mainly because I can see what makes the film top many "best film" lists. It has tremendous writing, intricate, serious directing from Coppola, gifted performances, and some of the most impressive cinematography, evoking seriousness, atmosphere, and detail to perhaps the sternest extent.
But I can see people being underwhelmed because of one inevitable outlet; pop culture and media. The Godfather has to be one of the most parodied films of all time, with lines, events, and monologues tempered with and mocked in frequent TV shows, movies, and even children's shows. I did a short film in high school about "The Doughnut Godfather," where a student dressed up in a fancy suit, put on a luxurious hat, and had a stuffed cat sit on his lap. This could very well make the film lose its serious aspect to some because immediately when we hear the line "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse," we divert our thoughts to where we've heard that before.
Another big difference I noticed between Scorsese and Coppola's work is that Scorsese's mobster films are more about history, rather than characters. We do get heavy characterization, but each films seems to have a great deal of respect for mob history and real life events. Coppola focuses a lot more on characterization and performances, as well as creating vignettes involving the Corleone family, showing family meetings and murders. When we look back at Goodfellas, we do think performances, but we more or less think of events that shocked and surprised us. When we think Godfather, we immediately reminisce about the extremely involved and award-worthy performances.
This could very well be one of the greatest films I've ever seen, but again, who am I to judge? My job is to say if I enjoyed a film and do I see audiences liking it. I'm sure many, if not every person, reading this review has seen The Godfather, and if not, then they have an extra task on their list. Unfortunately, some won't see the beauty because so many grittier mobster films have come out, that don't involve heavy monologues and intricate performances, and pop culture has greatly subtracted the impact the film once had. This shows gangsters in a different light. Ones that don't feel the need to boast power or success. They know you already know what they've done just by how they speak, act, and move.
Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard S. Castellano, Robert Duvall, John Cazale, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, and Diane Keaton. Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola.