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The Godfather Review

It is time to look back at one of the most influential films of all time, and one that is often regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time by the American Film Institute. Winner of 3 Academy Awards including Best Picture, it’s time to make you an offer that you can't refuse, as you leave your gun, take your cannoli, and read this review for Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece, The Godfather.

Set between the years of 1945-1955, the story chronicles the Corleone Sicilian family under the control of Vito Corleone, and their struggle to stay in power. The film also centers on the transformation of Michael Corleone, from a reluctant family outsider to a ruthless Mafia boss and head of the Corleone family.

Francis Ford Coppola's film version of The Godfather, based on the novel by Mario Puzo, is the most influential film ever made. Although many gangster films preceded The Godfather, this was the film that gave life and strengthened the gangster genre. One of the reasons of how this film was influential is how they were able to balance out the Corleone family life and the brutal and horrific business that they partake. The gangsters in this film are shown as being ruthless and cold-blooded killers; no doubt about it. But more importantly, this was the first time in which they were shown as something else: human beings. The first 30 minutes of the film best exemplifies the statement, as it not only gives us a glimpse of the business, but also the wedding of Don Vito Corleone's only daughter. We see them negotiate business in a small room. But after that, these gangsters act like regular people, celebrating and enjoying such a happy occasion. This shows how they are able to separate the business from their family lives and not let them affect them.

The Godfather also goes into the psychological depth and emotional complexity of those of the characters in the Mafia business. The best examples would be those who play the titular characters, Vito and Michael Corleone. In arguably one of the greatest acting performance and most deserving win for an Oscar, Marlon Brando transforms into the role of Vito Corleone. With his whisper voice and an ageing presence marked by experience, Vito Corleone represented a Don that is feared, but more importantly respected and loved by everyone. Although he is shown to be ruthless at times, Vito Corleone is a man who is mostly honorable and respectful, one that builds his business in order to take care and provide for his family. Brando delivers with a perfect performance that captures the essence and nature of the character, showing him as both the respective Don and the loving and caring father. Brando steals every scene that he is in, delivering sequences of great acting and memorable dialogue.

But despite appearing in the forefront when it comes to marketing and advertisements, Marlon Brando's Vito Corleone is not the main focus of the film. The main focus on the film is none other than the transformation of Vito Corleone's son, Michael Corleone. In one of Al Pacino's best roles he captures the descent to darkness that the character goes through. Michael Corleone starts out as someone who wants nothing to do with the family business. In fact, Michael is the one child who is pure and innocent. But what causes his transformation is by something known as "The Domino Effect". The beginning of The Domino Effect for not only Michael, but the family in general, is the attempted assassination of his father. After this, one events lead to another, leading to Michael Corleone becoming head of the crime family.

The transformation of Michael Corleone is one of the best transformations in film history. Seeing him go from college student to a ruthless Mafia crime boss is incredible to watch. By the end of the film, the Michael Corleone from the beginning of the film is gone. By joining into the Corleone business, Michael has become ruthless and cold-blooded. He is not afraid to do whatever it takes in order to see his business thrive, and will do anything to keep the business running. Before, he was an outsider. Now he is the one pulling the strings, and doing whatever it takes to make the business thrive. This was the path that Michael was headed after his father's shootings. That was the beginning of Michael’s Domino Effect.

One of my favorite scenes in the entire film is whenever Vito Corleone and Michael Corleone share screen time. It is then where we see two acting legends giving some of the best performances in their career. The best scene is the one where they are the only characters in it, towards the second act of the film. The two characters both talk about the business and the lives of their family. But what really makes this scene so hauntingly beautiful is the emotion the actors give into them, most notably Marlon Brando. In this scene, Vito Corleone discusses his sadness of how the only son who had a chance to go away from the family business is now the head of it. He also says how he dreamed of his son becoming something greater than this. Brando and Pacino executed this scene to perfection, capturing the emotion and understanding that the two characters have between each other.

These are some of the reasons why the story and the screenwriting for this film works. Written by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo (who is also the author of the novel it is based on), the characters are explored in more ways than in other gangster films. But the biggest strength lies in how they are able to present the story. Despite the lengthy run-time of 177 minutes, the story never ceases to bore the audience. The acting in the film helps, as they are given many memorable scenes and dialogue. But most importantly, every scene in this film matters and helps get the viewer involved and into the lives of the Corleone's. The screenplays is able to set up a scene, execute it perfectly, and deliver it in a pace that while slow, engages the audience thanks to the incredible acting and important scenes that actually matter.

Francis Ford Coppola's influence in cinematic history not only comes from the complexity of the characters, or the incredible screenwriting. It also grows in the way the scenes are set up. With the help of cinematographer Gordon Willis, Coppola was able to capture the look and feel of the film. But most importantly, every scene is carefully crafted in order to show the characters and further strengthen the plot, as there was always a hidden meaning for why the scenes are filmed that way. The best example would be how every time there was talk about the Corleone business, the characters would be in a dark or dim-lighted room. Before Michael’s transformation, many of his scenes were for the most part filled with bright colors. The further he joined the Mafia, the more the environment became dark and dim.

This aspect of the film also had another thing that has influenced cinematic history: The action sequence. One of the most beautiful things about the action sequences is how subtle and shocking they are. None of them are ever predicted, and it isn't until the action scene when we realized what is about to happen. When watching The Godfather for the first time, the most shocking thing for me was how unprepared I was for the violence. They happened at a time that would never be suspected. The best part: Each of them were carefully constructed and beautifully executed. The action in the film captures the brutal and violent nature of the gangsters.

The most famous example is The Baptism Scene. This scene has the biggest influence in other work of arts, most notably the hit television show Breaking Bad. One of the ways that the Baptism scene works is the choice of what most people refer to as montage editing. The scene goes from showing an event that celebrates the riddance of evil and Satan, to people murdering other mobsters. Both of these events are occurring at the same time. This action scenes works on many levels. First, it shows how two very different events are able to coexist perfectly, as the church scene is very calm and peaceful, while the other one is more violent. Both of them, however, have a gloomy feeling that adds to the suspense and scenery. The second reason is because this action sequence represents the life that Michael Corleone will have. It shows how he would live two different lives, as he is both holy and unholy. But most importantly, ti shows how even though he will renounce to Satan; at the same time he is hiring his men to kill his enemies. This further shows the ruthless nature that the character will grow.


These are the reasons why The Godfather is not only one of the most influential films, as it gave birth to a new genre of gangster films, but also why it is one of the greatest and most important films of all time. With great character development, a story that is able to engage the audience, perfectly executed action sequence, and featuring some of the greatest performance from Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, The Godfather is one of the greatest films of all time. Francis Ford Coppola delivered one of the best American masterpieces, and one that will be continued to be watch for many years to come.



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