04 November, 2006

Movie Series: 2. The Godfather

It's high time I continue my movie series... With what I believe is the best movie of all time.

I don't quote the Godfather by three's and two's
It's only on opportunities I can't refuse.

There was a man from Sicily
Who wanted to avoid being silly
So when he was teased
For having a voice greased
He just cut off the man's neck (and willy)!

First, a bit of history... I wasn't mush impressed with The Godfather the first time I saw it... well, I only saw the first half hour, and nothing much happened there. The next time, I employed that rare quality known as patience, and was rewarded. (After movies like this, I go "What. A. Movie.) I have seen the movie twice since, and my opinion of it has risen with each viewing.

The plot is complex, and populated with characters. Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) is the head of an affluent New York mob "family". But his rejection to the call for help by a drug dealer (drugs are against his principles) results in an assassination attempt on him, and the resulting gang war leads to the death of his elder son (James Caan), while sending his disinterested "civilian" younger son (Al Pacino) into a whirl that will eventually result in his becoming the head of the family.

It is quite an accomplishment that most of the the characters are well realised. Roger Ebert's review gives an idea as to why that is: Perfect casting. The actors understand their parts, and the screenplay doesn't have to go to extra lengths to give character backgrounds. And all the lead actors: Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, James Caan excel in their roles. Al Pacino in particular, handles his character extremely well, giving one of the best acting performances of all time.

Based on the book by Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Copolla creates a rich and tight movie, bringing the essentials of the book onto the screen in a way that make it (arguably) the best book adaptation in the history of cinema. Copolla chose to concentrate on Micheal Corleone and his transformation, while the book revolves around Don Corleone. This is a good decision, making the movie a greek tragedy at heart. The ending is laced with irony and is exceedingly well-paced.

The cinematography and music of the movie also deserve superlatives, as Gordon Willis's camera captures the actors in 40's New York settings with poignance and grace, effectively but subtly using colour and motion, while Nino Rota's score resonates with the tragic atmosphere.

I realise my review has been saturated with superlatives, but that is just what this movie deserves. Don't think this is a sad, dark, boring movie, though... But this is a commercial movie that goes far beyond just entertaining, creating multi-faceted characters, a complex plot, and a rich atmosphere. It has something for everyone.
The Godfather is, in one word, a masterpiece.


  1. This is one post I cannot beg to differ with. I have seen the movie and have loved it. Who hasn't? Francis Ford Capolla made a masterpiece that went into annals of glorious cinematic history on the day it was released. One can safely argue nothing before or after can surpass it. The sequels were just as good. It is one of the few movies that can be called a work of art.

  2. Off topic, but heck, you are talking of the Godfather, so I guess it can do...
    There once was a man who said, “God
    Must think it exceedingly odd

    If He finds that this tree
    Continues to be

    When there’s no one about in the Quad.”

    “Dear Sir:

    Your astonishment’s odd:

    I am always about in the Quad

    And that’s why the tree
    Will continue to be,

    Since observed by,
    Yours faithfully,

    Limerick attributed to Monsignor Ronald Knox

  3. A Lionheart family it is
    Where personal mingles with biz,
      But when Michael gets clout
     The cold dish is poured out
    And every traitor gets his.