Smashology’s review published on Letterboxd:
MICHAEL CORLEONE'S MUTINOUS BEGINNING
(Commemorating the 20th anniversary of one of my favorite video games of all time: Conker's Bad Fur Day)
I had seen it years ago and had also read the book around the same time (I never finished it, by the way), but it wasn't until this quarantine I found out that back then I hadn't understood a damn about the narrative complexity of what's undoubtedly the greatest gem of American cinema (perhaps because of my personal resentment towards Mario Puzo, since he created a work of art just for money). However, neither I can't deny the quality of a story that has redefined mainstream culture and the seventh art forever: a mythologically Shakespearean family tragedy, where an innocent and idealistic son, oblivious and indifferent to family business, is forced to become a vile and cold gangster for the survival of his core and the stability of his empire, even without knowing that even his power could be sacrificed.
It's very remarkable how one of Francis Ford Coppola's main skills is his method of narration, and together with the author of the original novel, he can create sequences designed with a high degree of precision and mastery. Each technical aspect is in itself the author's narrative essence: the editing is precise, capable of intriguing and surprising with each murder. Nino Rota's score greatly complements the criminal environment and Gordon Willis's cinematography shows a neat but cold world, filling the screen with shades of brown and orange (a merely accidental, but functional symbolism). It shows the kind of trouble a person gets into by making friends in the underworld (the baptise, the horse head, the domestic violence towards Connie, the killings of Sonny and Apollonia, the door closing before Kay's eyes), but the scenes with the Corleone family enjoying their company together are where their greatest virtue is found.
A series of ostentatious performances accompany the whole story and although we must acknowledge the participation of James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Abe Vigoda, John Cazale and Co., it's undeniable that Marlon Brando and Al Pacino are who make this film iconic. The first leaves his face reflected in the eternal pop culture as the most emblematic supporting character in history: Vito is a man who could be classified as cruel, yet in reality he has a good heart, because he'll be a mobster and will kill people, but he has principles and protects his family at any cost. The second shows Michael's impetus and rebellious nature, the psychological breakdown he experiences from his circumstantial and accidental guardianship as the future head of the family. Pure poetry made into an image, perhaps Hollywood owes the little credibility it still supports to this masterpiece.