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Submitted by Abhilash Mukherjee, B14001

The Godfather (1972) Movie Review


Popularly viewed as one of the best American films ever made, the multigenerational crime saga The Godfather is a touchstone of cinema: one of the
most widely imitated, quoted, and lampooned movies of all time. A true epic, its
legacy within world cinema is well regarded and is undoubtedly the film that
leads the way for other gangster films like Goodfellas and Scarface to come later.
This 1972 film directed by the legendary Francis Ford Coppola stars an exquisite
cast of phenomenal actors namely Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall,
James Caan, and Diane Keaton. Based on the book by Mario Puzo, the film tells
the story of the patriach of a family mafia dynasty as he begins to transfer
control of the organization to his hesitant son. The Godfather is a sprawling
crime-drama epic lasting a breath-taking two hours and fifty-five minutes.
Rarely does a film tell as many diverse-yet-interconnected stories. Coppola opens
the films with an interesting shot of a pitch black screen giving way to a
desperate figure, an undertaker pleading to Mafioso patriarch Don Vito Corleone
(Marlon Brando) to revenge the savage beating of his daughter. It is the wedding
day of the lone Corleone daughter Connie (Talia Shire), and no Sicilian can refuse
a request, which Don Vito takes on with reason, while also subtlety enforcing his
position as a man to be respected and feared.
Playing the eternal role of The Godfather Don Vito Corleone is the brilliant and
immortal Marlon Brando. He is simply mesmerizing and hypnotic as Corleone
with his flawless depiction of his character's mannerisms and facial expressions.
A memorable scene of Brando in the film is that in which his character, Don
Corleone, confidently and calmly, assures a dear friend that his request will be
fulfilled by uttering that most famous of lines: I'm gonna make him an offer he
can't refuse. Here, Brando marvelously captures the wiseness and coolness
needed by a patriarch managing and controlling a powerful mafia organization.
Plot wise, The Godfather begins with the attempted assassination of Don Vito
from a rival crime family unhappy with his refusal to enter the narcotics trade.
With the Don temporarily out of the picture, it is up to his sons to run the
Corleone clan. There is hot tempered Sonny (James Caan), meek mild Fredo (John
Cazale), adopted son of Irish ancestry Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), and the
fiercely independent Michael (Al Pacino).
It would be Michael who comes through as successor, and as a result The
Godfather is as much Pacinos film as it is Brandos, introducing himself with a
revelation of a performance. My favorite scene of Pacino in The Godfather is the
one that takes place in the restaurant, a pivotal point in the movie known as the
Sollozzo scene, which displayed Michaels true murderous, Machiavellian nature
in his disposal of his fathers would be killer and corrupt police official.
This is followed by Michaels self-exile to Sicily, which sells the romantic nature of
The Godfather, with the visuals of lush country side Italy coupled with Nino
Rotas hypnotically melodic score.
Yet there is a darkness which protrudes form this romance. This is a film about
the mafia after all, and death at its most sinister and intimate is featured
throughout.
What I liked best about the movie is how, at heart, its the story of one mans
improbable rise to power. In the scope of the films influence and famous scenes,
what almost gets lost is the basic story. Also, it is also more than a little
disturbing to realize that characters, which are so moving one minute, are likely,

Submitted by Abhilash Mukherjee, B14001


in the next scene, to be blowing out the brains of a competitor over a white
tablecloth. It's nothing personal, just their way of doing business as usual.
The film can be viewed on many levels, with equal satisfaction awaiting those
who just want a good story, and those who demand much more. The Godfather is
long, yes - but it is one-hundred seventy minutes well-spent. When the closing
credits roll, only a portion of the story has been told. Yet that last haunting image
of the movie, coupled with Nino Rota's mournful score, leaves a crater-like
impression in your mind.