CLASSIC REVIEW: The Godfather (1972)

Theatrical Release poster by Paramount Pictures

Way back in 1969, Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather was published – not long thereafter Paramount Pictures had the film rights, and were to adapt it into a movie. Sergio Leone passed on the film, as did Peter Bogdanovich – finally Francis Ford Coppola signed on, and the rest is history.

If you’ve never heard of Don Corleone before, then I have no idea which rock you’ve been living under. The Corleone crime-family drama follows the personal evolution of some of cinema’s greatest ever characters, and has one of the best ensemble casts of all-time. Caan, Duvall, Pacino, Brando, Keaton – amazing cast.

One of the things I would worry about, if I were to screen this film for 21st century teenagers, is Marlon Brando’s acting. He did win an Academy Award for his part as Vito Corleone, but the character has become somewhat of a joke to be overused in sketches and the like. Still, though, that shouldn’t taint the experience too much for newcomers to the Corleone-world, as Brando isn’t featured as much as some of the other stars are.

My two favorite characters in this film are Michael and Santino Corleone. I don’t think you could get anyone else to play these characters. Al Pacino is magnificent througout this movie, and James Caan’s performance is incredibly strong as well.

The greatest experience that this film gives to its viewers is the transformation of Michael Corleone. The film opens with Michael being presented as this gloriously gifted young son, one with a lot of potential outside of the family business. We even hear how he tell’s Kay that: “That’s my family Kay, that’s not me.”

In the end, Michael’s a different person – he’s Don Corleone. He lies to Kay, he’s now a murderer – no longer the proud young son. Now the vengeful man, the powerful crime leader.

Even though the film is about 3 hours long, an attentive viewer should never be bored. Some of the more slow scenes are some of my very favorite ones in this film, with Michael Corleone’s Sicily adventure having some standout scenes.

I would hope that newcomers to the Corleone-world would be as moved by the transformation of Michael as I was originally. I would hope that they could feel the power of Sonny’s anger, and the whirlwind of his attempted revenge. If so, then the masterpiece will be given new life in the young minds of the 21st century.

Final Score: 10 out of 10 – Coppola’s masterpiece is still immensely powerful.

I’m Jeffrey Rex

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