The Godfather

The Godfather ★★★★★

What can I say. It makes me think of my father and our connection in the love of movies we share and our relationship. It’s the kind of movie that’s—sorry—-unassailable. Like if you think it’s overhyped....trying to be delicate here, you missed something. Seriously. Either you didn’t pay it attention, or you didn’t appreciate how it’s the richest text in modern cinema for analysis from a cultural, psychological, literary, emotional, historical, and film historical way.

I would recommend reading Pauline Kael’s review of why it’s so extraordinary and iconic. It doesn’t need to change your initial experience. But i can’t do any better than her, and oftentimes I will experience a movie wildly differently the second time I see it because it’s so outrageously rich that I don’t pick up on all the themes stylistic choices and character subtleties etc. And reading an unbelievable piece of film criticism can sometimes speed that up. I recommend it. Anyway. 

This movie was the best movie I had ever seen when I first saw it. It is still the best one I’ve ever seen. When people talk about how they think it’s overhyped, it’s hard for me to think of any scene in the movie that’s not incredible and wouldn’t have grabbed them.

The wedding scene. Literally a perfect encapsulation of the entire dynamic—-the sunshine and light on the outside and a genteel wedding, in the darkness inside, corruption and violence. And Tom Hagen is really the mediator between the two. 

Sonny at the tollbooth scene. That long shot as the car approaches along the expressway. 
The restaurant scene. One of the best scenes in the history of movies. The sound of the subway/elevated train building and building almost as if it’s in Michael’s mind, and when he shoots, it’s gone.

The scenes in Italy. Like from a fairytale gone wrong. Showing how when the Corleone and mafia moved to America, they brought some of the Sicilian culture and changed America, but America changed them too. You can’t just go back in time. 

The immortal California scenes with Robert Duvall being polite as the movie producer has a meltdown...followed by the horse, the creeping slow tracking shot and edited jump cut zooms slowly entering his bedroom. 

The baptism scene at the end, which basically invented the montage as crescendo device.

How Michael goes to protect his father by his bedside, and you can see Brando cry. 

How Brando reacts when he finds out it was Michael who killed the cop. He just waves people out of the room. Because he “never wanted this for you.” Michael was going to be the one who became legitimate and went to law school—he would represent the true ascent of the Corleone family in America. Instead, out of love for his father (the past) the family cannot move in the future.

The death scene in the orchard. Mirroring the almost murder scene with the fruit tumbling off the carts. The shot of the gunmen feet approaching, the shot from the above angle looking down at Brando getting lit up. The way he sort of folds seemingly lifelessly off the car. Burned into mind. 

The “If he should get struck by a bolt of lightning, then I’m going to be blame some people in this room” speech. 

The scene where Michael tells Carlo he knows what he did. 

The division of all of Vito’s qualities between his three sons (Michael=his cunning and strategy....Sonny=his strength and charisma....Fredo, his heart.”). No son has all of the qualities or even more than one. 

The CINEMATOGRAPHY. For gods sakes, Gordon Willis literally redefined what movies could look like with his use of shadow. 

This movie is....part of me. I don’t know how to say this without sounding condescending, but I honestly feel that if a person watches this and thinks it’s overrated....they either haven’t thought about it enough, or aren’t at the right moment of their lives to watch it. 

There just are not movies where everything comes together so perfectly, from the score, to the acting choices (Pacino was about to be fired; Coppola was about to be fired; Brando was an almost impossibly lucky hire), to the direction, the freedom Coppola got for a project of this scope. It’s magic.