The Godfather

The Godfather ★★★★½

VERY LATE TO THE GAME HERE, but, wow, what a worthwhile endeavor. I actually read the book first, so was incredibly excited to see it brought to the screen, and, also, to see what all the hype was about... after years of "HOW HAVE YOU NOT SEEN THE GODFATHER?!" any time it came up.

The book, it is worth noting, is, of course, better. It is more enriched, as a book gets to be, with internal dialogue that really illuminates the WHY's behind this Sicilian "mafia" family. Briefly touched upon in the film by Michael Corleone, the important facet of the Corleone family, run by Vito Corleone (an unrecognizable Marlon Brando), the Godfather himself, is that it is not senseless greed or power-hungry coke heads that inspire them (as we see in most other gangster films). The Corleone's do not just disobey the law frivolously. They are not rebels by nature. They are rebels out of necessity. As an Italian immigrant, coming to make his way in America, Vito Corleone discovered that American law does not work for Sicilians the way it works for their own. The government does not take care of them, police don't protect them, and banks don't help them like they do their own. Out of necessity, the Sicilian families made their own way by abiding by their own law.

Though, its titular Godfather is our entry point into the film, the real story is about his son, Michael (Al Pacino). A war hero and pacifist, he has kept his family and their business at arms length. At one point he even says to his non-Sicilian girlfriend, Kay Adams (Diane Keaton), "this is my family, it isn't me."

However, when things take a turn for the worst, and a potential war between the "five families" (all the other Sicilian mafia families in NYC), Michael Corleone's intuition leads him on an unexpected path. The true story of "The Godfather" is about him.

A sprawling three hour film that covers the most crucial events of the book, Francis Ford Coppola masterfully finds the meat and bones of the story and brings it to screen with the exact right tone. Casted brilliantly and acutely directed, the story covers a lot of ground - the passage of time, significant character development, and convoluted dynamics - seemingly with ease.

I loved it upon first viewing, but I know that this is the kind of film that I will enjoy more each time. Weighed against my expectations, there is so much to take in on an initial watch, but in the future, I can't wait to just cozy up and enjoy the piece for all that it is. And especially to re-enjoy all these fantastic performances. And Al Pacino's young boiiii attractiveness.

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