The Godfather Review

The Godfather is a 1972 crime drama written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and co-written by Mario Puzo, who also wrote the novel the film is based on. The film has been praised as one of the greatest films of all time, earning 3 Oscars, mounds of critical and audience praise and becoming so iconic you can't escape references to it even at a young age.

Story
Don Vito Corleone is the head of a powerful crime family in New York City. After he is shot and nearly killed, his reluctant son Michael begins to slip into the Family's dark business.

The characters, while none of them are likable, are at least interesting to watch. There's a guy with major self control issues, a portly hit man who also teaches the men how to cook, etc. The main focus of the story is on Michael and he's probably the most interesting out of the ensemble. He goes through a Breaking Bad-esq type decline from timid war hero to ruthless gangster and even though it's not done as well as Breaking Bad you still get the feeling that you're watching somebody's heart blacken bit by bit. It's engaging if not necessarily fun.

The screenplay is just kind of ok. I know a lot of people who see this movie consider half the dialogue iconic and quotable I just think most of it is servicable. In all fairness, I do remember "make him an offer", "sleeping with the fishes" and "take the cannoli", but that's only because I've heard them quoted so often in everyday life. If I hadn't had them seared into my brain before I saw this I'm not sure if I would've found them as quotable as everybody else.

The pacing for the movie is really slow. That's actually why I couldn't get through this movie the first time I tried watching it. We spend almost the entire half an hour at a wedding scene and even though it's good world building and interesting mob things are happening hardly any of it has any consequence in the grand scheme of the film.

Technical
The lighting for the film is gorgeous. It's mostly tinted in a lot of yellows and oranges, giving the sense of a hot New York sun. What also struck me about the lighting was the way it helped tell the story. This is just my personal interpretation, but I always thought that the lighting was used symbolically to show good and evil. For example, during the wedding scene, all of the scenes outside, where everybody's dancing and laughing and having fun, are shot in bright daylight. However, in the Godfather's office everything is dark save for a few orange lights. Also, when Michael goes to Italy in the middle of the film most of the shots are in bright yellow sunlight, but when he comes back to New York a lot of the shots are either overcast or dark with, again, only orange lighting.

The set design is also fantastic; it looks exactly how I would imagine a 1940s New York Italian town to look like. Everything looks intimidating and unwelcoming when they're discussing mobster business, but homely and inviting when they're doing something else, once again highlighting the differences between family and The Family.

The music is servicable. I couldn't hum a single note from the score, but it does help tell the story, so how much crap can I give it?

The acting is really good from the cast all around except from Marlon Brando. I think this is mainly because I've seen the performance parodied so many times that I can no longer take it seriously. The voice is silly and the make up makes him look silly, which so many comedians have already pointed out in spoofs. Maybe this, like the screenplay, would've been better had I seen it in 1974 along with everybody else, but I didn't so I can't get behind it.

Summary: The Godfather is a good movie, but not an enjoyable one. It has a lot of great themes, some great performances and gorgeous cinematography and lighting, but its overuse of bloody violence, graphic imagery and unlikeable characters keep it from being fun. It's more like a wine that was meant to be sipped and admired rather than a beer you can chug down with your friends.

B-

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