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Running head: Movie review The Godfather

 

Movie review The Godfather

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Movie review The Godfather

The movie “Godfather” is a 1972 crime film based on the novel of the similar name by Mario Puzo and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, with script by Puzo and Coppola. The film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton and James Caan. The story spans ten years from late 1945 to 1955 and chronicles the life of the Corleone crime family. Rarely can it be said that a film has defined a genre, but never is that more true than in the case of The Godfather. In view of the fact that the release of the 1972 epic (which garnered ten Academy Award nominations and was named Best Picture), all "gangster movies" have been judged by the standards of this one (unfair as the comparison may be). If a film is in relation to Jewish mobsters, it's a "Jewish Godfather"; if it's about the Chinese underworld, it's an "Oriental Godfather"; if it takes place in contemporary times, it's a "modern day Godfather." If The Godfather was only about gun-toting Mafia types, it would never have garnered as many accolades. The characteristic that sets this film apart from so many of its predecessors and successors is its ability to weave the often-disparate layers of story into a cohesive whole. Any of the individual issues explored by The Godfather are strong enough to form the foundation of a movie. Here, however, bolstered by so many complimentary themes, each is given added resonance. The picture is a series of mini-climaxes, all building to the overwhelming, ultimate conclusion. Rarely does a film tell as many diverse-yet-interconnected stories. Strong performances, solid directing, and a tightly-plotted script all contribute to The Godfather's success. This motion picture was not slapped together to satiate the appetite of the masses; it was carefully and painstakingly crafted. Every major character - and more than a few minor ones - is molded into a distinct, complex individual. Stereotypes did not influence Coppola's film, even though certain ones were formed as a result of it.

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The film opens in the study of Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), the Godfather, who is holding court. It is the wedding of his daughter Connie (Talia Shire), and no Sicilian can refuse a request on that day. So the supplicants come, each wanting something different revenge, a husband for their daughter, a part in a movie. The family has gathered for the event. Michael (Al Pacino), Don Vito's youngest son and a second world war hero, is back home in the company of a new girlfriend (Diane Keaton). The two older boys, Sonny (James Caan) and Fredo (John Cazale), are there as well, along with their "adopted" brother, Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), the don's right-hand man. With the end of the war, the times are changing, and as much as Don Vito seems in control at the wedding, his power is beginning to erode. By the standards of some, his views on the importance of family, faithfulness, and admiration are antiquated. Even his heir apparent, Sonny, disagrees with his refusal to get into the drug business. Gambling and alcohol are forces of the past and present; narcotics are the future. But Don Vito will not compromise, even when a powerful drug supplier named Sollozzo (Al Lettieri) arrives with promises of high profits for those who back him.

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on Vito's negative response to do business with Sollozzo strikes the first sparks of a war that will last for years and cost a lot of lives. Each of the five major mob families in New York will be gouged by the bloodshed, and a new order will emerge. Betrayals will take place, and the Corleone family will be shaken to its roots by treachery from both within and without. The Corleone with the most screen time is Michael (it's therefore odd that Al Pacino received a Best Supporting Actor nomination), and his tale, because of its scope and breadth, is marginally dominant. His transformation from "innocent" bystander to central manipulator is the stuff of a Shakespearean tragedy. By the end, this man who claimed to be different from the rest of his family has become more ruthless than Don Vito ever was. Don Vito is a most complicated gangster. In his own words, he is not a killer, and he never mixes business with personal matters. He puts family first ("A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man") and despises displays of weakness. He understands the burden of power, and his wordless sympathy for Michael when he is forced to assume the "throne", is one of The Godfather's most revealing moments (about both father and son).

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