Write descriptive essay about The Godfather movie 1972, write an essay of at least 500 words on The Godfather, 5 paragraph essay on The Godfather, definition essay, descriptive essay, dichotomy essay.
The Godfather
Crime, Drama, Thriller
IMDB rating:
Francis Ford Coppola
Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone
Al Pacino as Don Michael Corleone
James Caan as Santino 'Sonny' Corleone
Richard S. Castellano as Young Peter Clemenza
Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen
Sterling Hayden as Capt. McCluskey
John Marley as Jack Woltz
Richard Conte as Don Emilio Barzini
Al Lettieri as Virgil 'The Turk' Sollozzo
Diane Keaton as Kay Adams Michelson
Abe Vigoda as Sal Tessio
Talia Shire as Connie Corleone Rizzi
Gianni Russo as Carlo Rizzi
John Cazale as Fredo Corleone
Storyline: When the aging head of a famous crime family decides to transfer his position to one of his subalterns, a series of unfortunate events start happening to the family, and a war begins between all the well-known families leading to insolence, deportation, murder and revenge, and ends with the favorable successor being finally chosen.
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The Godfather make me an offer that I cannot refuse. This movie is a masterpiece.
It's basically impossible to watch this movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola, without already knowing some of the major themes, motifs, plot twists, within author Mario Puzo's story; due to how popular the film is. Even, if you haven't saw the movie, you probably heard of it. If you had, saw it. You might agree with me, in scope, that this movie is indeed, one of the greatest films ever made. Based off, Mario Puzo's 1969 novel with the same name, The Godfather tells the story of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) on his journey, from reluctant family outsider to ruthless Mafia boss, during the criminal drug wars of the 1940/early 1950s. Without spoiling the movie, too much, I found that a lot of critics, overpraise Marlon Brando's work in this, a way too much. Don't get me wrong, Marlon Brando does deserve, a lot of credit for making his character, the patriarch Vito Corleone, so iconic. I just don't believe, that he deserve, the Oscar for Best Actor, that year. In my opinion, Al Pacino should had be nominated & won. After all, Michael is pretty much, the main character, not Vito. Also, Pacino is the one actor that kept the movie, going, with his great range of emotional. Brando show-what disappears, toward the middle of the film. If any, Brando deserve to win, Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards, because Brando's acting is secondary to that of Pacino. It's not personality, it's only business. Besides that, the acting throughout the film was well-performed, from all the actors. I just wish, there wasn't much, many characters. It was so hard to keep track of each one. Some actors, worth noting for their performance are James Caan as Michael's hot-headed brother, Sonny Corleone, Robert Duvall as Irish lawyer, Tom Hagen, Diane Keaton as Michael's girlfriend, Kay Adams & last, John Cazale as Michael's weaker brother, Fredo Corleone. As much, as I despise, certain gangster films. There was something, likable with these characters. Yes, they do, horrible stuff, but you can't help, feeling bad for them. Indeed, keep your friends close, your enemies closer. Not only was the film had gifted actors, but it was very well-shot. I love, how the film used doors, as a way to symbolize, the different between family life, and 'the family life'. A great example of this, was the last few minutes of the film in which Kay finds out, the truth nature about Michael. It's a crucial theme of the film. The five families are essentially living the American dream with specific ideals that America at the time greatly treasured. One could easily see this as a deconstruction or even an attack on the idea of the American Dream. So it was no surprise that the families met inside a Federal Reserve Bank. Talk about smart! I also like, how the movie has this stark bleak look to it. All the colors in the film, looks so muted, as if to say, this gangster film was indeed shot in early 1940s, technicolor. I like how, clever, the filmmaker was, when using bright colors. Most of the only bright color, used in the film, was orange. It was used as mostly an item, like a fruit symbol. It representing sin, and greed. It's as if it was the forbidden fruit, in the bible. It was also, used as a sexual way to show impending judgment. Everybody that got near it, end up, dying in the film. While, the movie has tons of other symbolism. It's also shroud in darkness and mystery. The movie even has a few film noir inspire scenes, where shadow, become a big factor to show, how shady, the underworld, can be. Vito's daughter's wedding scene shows the best of this. The movie has a lot of violence as well. Scenes like the real horse severed head were pretty gruesome. Still, compare to modern day, gangster movies, the sex, drugs and violence is pretty tame. For the most part, the movie kept to a somewhat classy mode with its subject matter. I do like the editing. The whole baptize sequence was amazing to watch. The pacing for the film is a mixed bag for me. There were some parts of the film that I kinda found boring or out of place, such as the Sicily, Las Vegas & Hollywood scenes. It felt like, I was watching two different films, due to how unfamiliar, each of those scenes, were, when comparing to the New York settling. I just glad, they were very short. The film also drops a lot of the novel's subplots, such as Sonny's mistress, having a large vagina, and having to get surgery on it. Another thing worth cutting is a lot of Johnny Fontane (Al Martino) and Lucy Mancini (Jeannie Linero) scenes. In the novel they both get big story lines nearly the equal of the main storyline with Michael. I'm glad, they cut it out, because it was too jarring. Though one major one, they cut out in this film: Don Vito's youth and rise to power came back, as part of the sequel, 1974's the Godfather: Part II. Happy, that they found, a way to add that, back in. Leave the Fontane BS. Take the cannoli, instead. The film score by Nino Rota was great. You really think of the word 'mafia' when you hear that tune. While, the film doesn't deliberately speak that word, it did expose, what was then, a mostly hidden underworld of Mafia organizations. Overall: While, some big time criminals and even some stars, like Frank Sinatra were against it, and boycott the film, but they couldn't stop the movie, from being made. The Godfather continues to influence producers of films, television shows, and video games more than 40 years after its release. It's a classic.
This Movie Has Haunted My Life...
I love this movie and all of the GF movies. I see something new every time I have seen it (countless, truly). The story of tragedy and (little) comedy that exists in this film is easily understood by people all over the world. This film has been called an American story however I have met others who have seen this movie in other languages and they seem to have the same love and appreciation for it that I do. I love the characters and all of the different personalities that they represent not just in families but in society itself. It seems like the entire cast is part of every other movie that I love as well. The sounds, music, color and light in the film are just as much a part of the film as the people. This could be attributed to the method in which it was filmed. At many parts of the film I can still find myself feeling the emotions conveyed in the film. I never tire of appreciating this film. I thank God that FFC is an American treasure. We are fortunate to have him.
Another kind of "family movie"
The Godfather is one of the few films in which I personally did not find any significant weakness even after many viewings. From the direction, to the acting, to the storyline, to the score, The Godfather has the word classic written all over, and it really is not much of a surprise that it is now considered by many one of the top five movies of all time. Perhaps when it comes to cinematic techniques The Godfather has not been as revolutionary as Citizen Kane, but its influence on motion pictures is comparable. Rarely a movie has defined or re-defined a genre as much as this one did for "gangster movies", but its influence goes well beyond that.

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.
One Can See Why It's So Highly-Rated
Some people have called this one of the best movies of all time. I can see why they say that, although I wouldn't quite rate it that high. It does feature an interesting storyline, great acting and magnificent photography so I am not going to argue with those who place in so high, because it's understandable. It also has a memorable score.

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.
A film of great power and a milestone in the history of the cinema
Before 'The Godfather' came out in 1972, the gangster genre, chiefly associated with Jimmy Cagney and the film noir style of the forties and fifties, had been in something of a decline. It was, therefore, a brave move for Francis Ford Coppola to attempt a three-hour epic based upon the family life of a Mafia don.

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
A tour de force of cinema
Since I was a small boy, whenever I heard of others talking of the greatest movies ever made, The Godfather always came up,most of the time, at the top. I always thought that the movie was overrated, that is, until watched it two years ago.

How to tell if a movie is good? If you can't stop thinking about it, if you keep replaying the characters' lines in your sleep, then the movie isn't just good, it's great. The Godfather's impact on the movie industry is incalculable, in almost ever modern gangster movie there is at least one reference to it.

I can find no flaw in this movie. If there were anything such as a 'perfect' movie, this is it. Coppola provides excellent direction such that though the movie stretches to almost three hours, you won't be bored for one minute.

The highlight of this film is an innovation. The gangsters here are not portrayed as mindless monsters but as men with families. We see Vito and Michael Corleone as protagonists rather than antagonists. Credit for this goes to Mario Puzo's original source material but let us not forget the actors.

Marlon Brando gives the greatest performance of not only his career but of any other actor as the family patriarch. He's so Don-like that you just wished you could go to him with all your problems too. Al Pacino plays Michael Corleone. But he doesn't give a single performance, he gives two. At the beginning, he plays a war hero who doesn't want anything to do with the family business. Pacino skillfully shows us Michael's transition from this to a cold blooded Don at the end. The other actors play their parts well too. In fact, there has never been any other better cast than the cast of The Godfather.

A cinematic masterpiece, this is one for the ages.
The Pinnacle Of Flawless Films!
'The Godfather' is the pinnacle of flawless films! The first time I viewed 'The Godfather' I was in my early teens and it was the most astounding film I had ever seen, and has since then stood as my all-time favourite film. It is due to this that I have been looking forward to writing a review of this unforgettable classic. So let's start from the beginning. The film opens to four words, 'I believe in America', it's crazy to think that this simple line has become a resonant quote solely due to the impact it made on the entrance to the film's "threshold". This is just one of the many renowned quotes that litter the film, and believe me, there are a lot. After the first take we are then absorbed into the life of Vito Corleone, brilliantly portrayed by the Oscar- winning performance of Marlon Brando. Vito is a feared man, he is a criminal, he is a mafioso, but above all he is a respected family man, his three sons are depicted by three excellent actors, James Caan, John Cazale and Al Pacino as well as his adopted child Tom Hagen, played by Robert Duvall. The film follows Vito as he attempts to transfer his crime empire to his reluctant son, Michael. With some of the most graphic and gruesome death scenes to have ever been seen in the 1970's film industry (including a certain horse's head), 'The Godfather' epitomises how violence can be used effectively within a film. The Corleone's are some of the greatest antiheroes to have ever been seen on screen, whilst they are villains, the audience will refuse to accept that fact, Coppola does something simple and audacious, he takes the guilt out of organised crime. A film rife with beautiful cinematography, memorable musical scores and well-paced action and drama. Overall, The Godfather is one of Hollywood's greatest critical and commercial successes that gets everything right; a gangster flick that is overflowing with life, rich with emotion and subtle acting, and further blessed with amazing direction from Francis Ford Coppola. Arguably the most unforgettable masterpiece to have ever been made.
The Greatest Cast For A Movie Ever.
SPOILERS for the film lie ahead! Read at your own risk.

Regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time. "The Godfather" is a beloved classic about organised crime, and the Sicilian lifestyles in America. Of course the movie is about the building of a dynasty, a business built on death, murder and betrayal that goes on to run itself on favours and illegal pleasures. However, in this story we see the life of Don Vito Corleone (Played to a tee by the magnificent Marlon Brando), giving favours on his daughter's Wedding day. Here we see a loving, caring man who is both equally loved and feared. So far in the movie, it has had fair tension and introduced us to the family. Then all of a sudden a film-maker awakens to find his prized race horse's head under his bed sheets, and suddenly the tensions of this movie rises considerably.

After many hits later, as well as an attempted assassination on Don Corleone. We cut to Michael Corleone (Played superbly by Al Pacino), the youngest son in the Corleone family, who resents the family business. Until a bloody act of revenge, unwittingly consumes him mentally beyond the return of normality. We then cut to Michael's new life as well as Vito recuperating. Vito expresses great upset that this fate has befallen Michael, as he never wanted him to get involved with the family business. Michael has now become a shell of his former joyful self, yet he has built a "happy" life for himself whilst in hiding.

In the meantime. A montage of hits is carried out by all of the five families, which ultimately ends up bringing more tragedy to the Corleone family. Eventually it finally leads to a cause of action, in which Vito ensures the protection of every family within the Mafioso (An interesting note that the word "Mafia", is never uttered in the movie). At the same time, Michael has returned and is now the "Don" of the Corleone family, and is allowing the five families to run the Corleone's resources dry. After Vito sadly passes away, Michael then begins his plan as he has all other heads of the five families brutally murdered (While attending a Christening no less). Ensuring his place as the strongest "Don" to the remaining families, as a door swings closed to his now realising wife.

Something of a Masterpiece when the film came out back in 1972. "The Godfather". has only gotten better of age. There are so many iconic quotes and moments in the movie, and the cast is just seriously one of the best ever put to film. James Caan I hardly recognised, and Robert Duvall was just as brilliant as always. But obviously the biggest argument is, was this movie Brando's or Pachino's? Personally, I thought Brando was just incredible as always, and totally deserved the Oscar he turned down. Both nevertheless are unforgettable on screen.

The pacing was impeccable, as well as the locations that are all shot beautifully. Some part of me does feel that the film is a bit too long, however a lot does happen and instantly captivates you enough to check out the sequels. The music was fantastic, helping bring the era and authenticity out of the picture and into the deepest parts of my brain. I could listen to the "Love theme" all day. As said earlier, the movie is about the dynasty of the family, the business of the family and the vengeance of the family. So many themes are present and so much more are explored. Every gangster film ever made owes something to Francis Ford Coppola's efforts.

Final Verdict: Probably the first modern gangster epic ever made. As director Stanley Kubrick said: "Probably the finest cast ever assembled". 10/10.
Legend İn The World
he Godfather (1972) did for gangster movies what 2001: A Space Odyssey did for science fiction. Like Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola re-energized and, to a degree, reinvented a basic Hollywood pulp fiction action-entertainment genre, using it as a vehicle for the high artistic ambitions of a post-New Wave film "auteur."

Within his narrower focus on 20th century American civilization (as opposed to Kubrick's philosophical speculations on human evolution), Coppola shapes the story of the Corleone Mafia family into an epic/satiric vision of American business, government, justice, and moral decline. The Godfather's brilliantly constructed opening sequence, the wedding of Don Corleone's daughter, not only establishes the Don's character, the nature of his organization, the role of family and Sicilian tradition in his world, and the character of his sons (three natural and one adopted), but also establishes the relationship between the Don's world and "legitimate" society. For instance, the film's opening words are those of Bonasera, a petitioner for a wedding "favor," whose voice over a dark screen first asserts the American Dream, "I believe in America. America has made my fortune," and then turns to disillusioned contradiction: "for justice, we must go to Don Corleone."

Numerous subsequent lines of dialog establish literal or metaphorical connections between the criminal underworld and social institutions. Some of the most memorable ones include: "My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.""Now we have the unions, we have the gambling; and they're the best things to have. But narcotics is a thing of the future. And if we don't get a piece of that action, we risk everything we have. I mean not now, but ten years from now." "It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business." And most famously of all: "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."

The film's title refers to two godfathers, the original Don Corleone and his youngest son - and ultimate successor - Michael. Marlon Brando's performance as Don Corleone, for which he was awarded a Best Actor Academy Award, balances the Don's subtly counter-pointed functions as beloved, grandfatherly patriarch and fearsome, brutal crime boss. Yet Michael, as the character most centrally and significantly affected by the film's plot and played with a brilliance equaling Brando's by a then unknown Al Pacino, is the principal protagonist.

At the wedding, Michael's centrality is signaled by the Don's frantic call, "Where's Michael? We are not taking the picture without Michael!" A World War II hero still in decorated uniform, Michael is meanwhile busy differentiating himself from his family to his girl friend and future second wife, Kay (Diane Keaton). "Luca Brasi held a gun to the band leader's head," he relates, "and my father assured him that either his signature or his brains would be on the release. That's my family Kay. It's not me." Michael's initial disinterest in Mafia activities is reinforced by his adoring father who envisions him as "Senator Corleone" or "Governor Corleone" not as his successor. That role is reserved for his hot-headed eldest son, Sonny (James Caan). But, of course, events conspire to suck Michael in - and to keep sucking him in right through Godfather III - the assassination attempt on his father, Michael's coolly murderous response, the car bomb meant for him that kills his first wife, the Sicilian beauty Apollonia (aptly named for the god of sun light), the riddled body of his brother Sonny. Inevitably, a morally darkened Michael emerges at the end of the film, one who outdoes his father in guile and ruthlessness and whose final brutal and deceitful acts in Godfather I seal his doom as a Macbeth-like villainous tragic hero.

Shot mainly on location in various New York City locales, The Godfather spans a ten- year post World War II period. A multitude of props, costumes, and pop culture artifacts arranged by the film's art director, Warren Clyner, and production designer, Dean Tavoularis, lend a rich sense of historical authenticity to the film's mise en scene. Moreover, the film's lighting by brilliant cinematographer Gordon ("prince of darkness") Willis, contributes greatly to both the film's realism and its thematic symbolism. Compare, for instance, the use of extremely dark, shadowy, color desaturated interior scenes – especially in the Don's home office – with the brightly lit, vivaciously colored outdoor wedding scene or the sun-drenched, romanticized Sicilian landscape.

The Godfather is edited in the classic Hollywood invisible style, subordinating technique to the needs of narrative and visual continuity. But the film is expertly edited nonetheless. In particular one might note the stunning use of multiple parallel editing that occurs in one of the film's last scenes: the assassination of the other crime family heads, elaborately planned to coincide with Michael's participation in the baptism of sister Connie's child. Likewise, The Godfather's soundtrack is a memorable combination of diegetic period music ("Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas") and a lush, operatic original score composed by one of the greatest film music composers, Nino Rota (a frequent Fellini collaborator as in 8 1/2).

With The Godfather and its even more ambitious sequel, Coppola pushed the classic gangster film in the direction of high art and released it once and for all from the moralistic grip of the Hays Code, which arose in the 1930s in large part as a response to the romanticizing of criminals found in such early examples of the gangster genre as Scarface, Little Cesar, and Public Enemy. Not only did the code regulate the degree and nature of sexual and violent imagery in all films, but it also specifically required that criminals be portrayed as morally repulsive social deviants and that plots involving them be resolved with the implicit or explicit lesson that "crime did not pay." Fortunately for American popular culture The Godfather radically rewrote the rulebook and paved the way for a generation's-worth of gangster masterpieces ranging from the Scarface remake to Pulp Fiction to The Sopranos.
The Best Of The Set: By A Mile
Spoilers Ahead;

I am not a big fan of the sequels even the second is a big step down from this one. What a cast? Like an earlier reviewer said; REWATCHABLE!! Yes, I am Italian, not a Sicilian, and I have seen it hundreds of times. What a cast: Brando, Pacino, Caan, Duvall. Even the supporting cast is excellent with the film noir legend Richard Conte as Barzini. Puzo wrote such a rich, deep script. The characters suck you in and are so lifelike. Each brother is radically different from the other. Fredo, the mama's boy, the useless one who Michael kills off in the second one. Sonny, the human volcano, with a temper that has to be seen to be believed. Michael, the quiet and deadly one most like Vito but colder more ruthless. Michael was always outside the family looking in; he was held in contempt by the rest as the soft college boy who didn't want to get his hands dirty. This is the answer to the riddle of how he could kill Fredo, his own brother, later in the second one. Notice where he sits at the wedding, as far away from the family as he can get.

Events suck Michael into their world but he never is really in the family. We see his cruelty by the end of the movie as he slaughters the heads of the five families and his own sister's husband Carlo who fingered Sonny. The key scene for understanding Michael is the baby's baptism; watch the juxtaposition of the images with the words the priest is saying. As he renounces Satan he performs the very actions he is renouncing. Coppola was so good at using images to contradict words; it is really his signature. Pacino becomes the very image of Satan as he murders all those people while standing reciting the holy words of baptism renouncing the very deeds as he is performing them. What a work of art!! Only Francis Coppola could do this.

The film, to be fair to its critics, does gloss over the mafia a bit. We do not see old store owners shaken down with blow torches waved in front of their faces. I do think Puzo and Coppola do show the awful cost of the evil. Even here, Michael slowly transforms from a diffident outcast at the back of the family to a ruthless Don. It appears here that he is like Vito but that illusion is dispelled by his ruthlessness far exceeding Vito's. Michael because he was an outcast simply does not feel the bonds of family as Vito did. There is a coldness about him; he is like an iceberg. The movie is three hours long but it moves very quickly. The only parts that drag are the scenes of michael's exile in Sicily. It really is the story of the brothers and how radically different their fates are; Fredo is sent to Vegas where he becomes a weakling fop beaten up by Moe Greene, Sonny's temper ends up killing him like you always knew it would. Michael gets sucked in; there is always great resentment in Michael for the destiny he never wanted.

The second film shows Michael's estrangement from the family deepening. It culminates in him killing Fredo for putting him at risk. I always think it is important to see Michael as Puzo and Coppola paint him: a loner who protects himself ruthlessly. He really could care less about the family; he is all about power and control. Vito, for all his evil, cared and loved his family very deeply. Look, Fredo almost got him killed when Sollozo's men attacked, he fumbled and dropped his gun. Vito did not kill him; Michael was not so forgiving. It is a true masterpiece. I LOVE IT
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