The Godfather

The Godfather ★★★★½

Incredibly immersive. Even though its world is violent, it is highly ordered and ultimately cozy to watch. The tone is operatic and dramatic at times but the narrative has a distinct coldness that keeps the viewer at a distance. It is almost voyeuristic, and must've felt so in the 70s when Americans were just becoming obsessed with the lives of Italian mobsters. This coldness also began a trend that separates all post-Godfather gangster films as distinct from the spat of mobster films in the 30s, in which down-and-out men commit crimes out of desperation and are portrayed as mostly deserving of our sympathy. The family in The Godfather is a corporation, that utilizes the same sort of "it's just business" mantra that perpetuates slave labor in Southeast Asia so we can wear Nikes.

There is also some interesting race politics here that I didn't remember. The entire conflict between the Five Families about whether or not to get into the drug business is dependent on the fear of the association of drugs with black communities. The public faces of the two opposing forces in The Godfather are the Turkish Sollozo and the German-Irish Tom, perhaps a comment on the relative expendability of non-Italians to the family.

Some negatives: The self-assured and violent masculinity goes unquestioned in this world. The women are poorly developed and have little to no agency, only present in the background as foils to the male characters. Yes, the world of organized crime in the 40s did treat women poorly, but Coppola does nothing to explore this. Also, Michael in Italy feels like Coppola wanted to make a made for TV melodrama but couldn't find the time, so stuck it in the middle of The Godfather. It honestly could've been cut and the subsequent leap forward in time is jarring.