“The Godfather” Review ✦✦✦✦✦

5 December, 2016

Year of Release: 1972
 Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo
Director of Photography: 
Gordon Willis
Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan

Synopsis: Set in New York during the 1940s, The Godfather tells the epic story of the Corleone crime family; a branch of the Sicilian Mafia who preserve their own personal wealth and influence through whatever violent means necessary.

Godfather Review:

A cinematic miracle in every conceivable way, “The Godfather” inhabits its own perfectly structured universe; a world where hardened criminals are human beings with motives and weaknesses, a place where vulnerability is concealed behind virility in a family tree always in motion. For the Corleone crime family, crime is their religion and family is their everything in a film that both humanises and vilifies the Sicilian Mafia with its in-depth depiction of honour, loyalty and self-preservation.

While Francis Ford Coppola is keen on presenting the criminal underworld as a place where bullies and murderers thrive, he constructs his silky iconography with such precision that entire passages of dialogue roll off actors’ tongues with the lyricism and finesse of a beautiful opera. “The Godfather” feels both constructed and authentic as the Sicilian blood running through its veins ensures that even improvised pieces of dialogue remain in keeping with the film’s overall tone and mindset.

Most enrapturing of all is the slow transformation of Michael Corleone, the son who begins on the side-lines as a war hero with a legitimate life ahead of him, a man so removed from the horrors committed by his family that he openly denounces them, and yet the son so perfectly set-up to fill his father’s shoes as heartbreak and family tragedy transform him into a hardnosed gangster.

Topped off with an instantly recognisable film score composed by Nino Rota, “The Godfather” is an overwhelmingly compact piece of cinema with a layered fictional history containing multiple lines of interest. Michael’s Sicilian love story alone has the nuance of an entire movie and yet it’s just a sliver of the film’s overall narrative in this masterwork of subtlety and substance. Even after watching hours of documentaries, interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage, it’s impossible to fully grasp how Francis Ford Coppola was able to create such a well-crafted masterpiece out of a story that normalises but never glorifies the life of the rich and ruthless.


Review Date
The Godfather