You can’t really criticize a film like “The Godfather”, especially from a younger-type guy like me. Since its release in 1972, “The Godfather” has been highly praised by fans universally. It’s extremely hard for a person who has never seen “The Godfather” without having high expectations because millions of people, maybe more have been talking about how wonderful it is. But as a film critic who has seen the movie several times and has read the novel that it was based on by Mario Puzo, this movie really deserves the credibility it gets. It really is that special. The film is a gripping epic that indulges the viewer with plenty of unsuspecting twists and a plot that works in a multitude of dimensions. The mobster’s depicted here face many trials and tribulation that involve marriage, favours, family struggles, turncoats, tragic events, violence and rigor mortis.
Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is the head patriarch and kingpin of his esteemed enterprise is acquainted to at his daughter’s wedding, which is a special occurrence in Italian tradition (Sicilian in particular) where the father of the bride is to refrain from offering the groom any special favours. His representatives showing their signs of respect towards the Don are featured in the opening scenes are told through their ways of personal address and greeting regimentations. The Don is to be treated with respect and dignity, a man who follows his own frame of mind to what is fair, and will likely deny any means of avenge. As an example, if anyone was to fondle with his daughter in any kind of way grounds for murder. It’s not revenge, as long as your daughter’s still breathing.
There are also numerous facets that indicate how not so respected the Don really is. Vito comes from the old school of Mafia, and can be labeled as a “Moustache” Pete. For one, unlike his adversaries, he refuses to get involved with drugs or smuggling for that matter. It this is much to the chagrin of other rival mob units in the state of New York. The violence is described disturbingly as nothing personal, it’s just business. The philosophy behind this organized crime is chilling, but quite convincing. The violence is creepily accepted and sometimes happens all of the sudden. Suddenly, the Corleone enterprise falls on its foundations, and it’s up to the next generation to restore the family so it could be ranked as the top of the best mob families.
The cast features a myriad of talented performers each playing their respective roles flawlessly. The top stars like Brando as Vito, James Caan as the hot-tempered Sonny, Al Pacino as the likable Michael, John Cazale as middle-sibling Fredo, Robert Duvall as mob attorney Tom Hagen, Richard Castellano as Clemenza, Abe Vigoda as Tessio and Diane Keaton as Kay Adams are what I may have expected what the characters from Puzo’s book look like physically. Even the smaller roles deserve special credit. The performances were absolutely amazing. The characters in the film compliment the characters from the novel and it is mainly due to the physical structuring and the carefully planned interpretation.
The novel this movie was based on by Mario Puzo deserves praise in itself. Even though this movie was a fictional, there are a lot of authentic features that make every scene and every chapter to be real. I guess people when they think of mob bosses they visualize a supreme Don, sitting in his chair with a long facial expression contemplating with endless level-headedness and leadership. “The Godfather” is a marvel from both the film and the novel and it is hard to determine what medium is the better of the two.
If there is one thing that the book is better would be character development. Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone is a more prominent character in the novel than in the movie. Michael’s transformation in the movie is at times a bit rushed, while in the book it’s handled more gradual. The other character Luca Brasi played by Lenny Montana was a more vital character in the novel, which while he was an ally to the Corleone clan, is marked as a threatening adversary with a dark and dreary secret. In the movie comes across as a big oaf, and not as scary. It’s also nice that some of the smaller characters from the novel have engaging back stories like Captain McCluskey (Sterling Hayden). But that’s good for the novel’s sake, while the film would result in overdone detailing.
Overall, “The Godfather” is one of the greatest films ever made. Thanks mainly to the crew for creating a well-structured setting that compliments nicely to the characters, the script and most importantly, the direction of Francis Ford Coppola. Hats off to the cinematography from Gordon Willis which is backed nicely by the elegant score from Nino Rota and Carlo Savina. This film truly defines the words “required viewings.”