Sophie Farrell’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers!
The Godfather is another one of those (very) highly regarded films that until now I hadn't seen all the way through. About 6 or 7 years ago, I saw the first 20 or so minutes of The Godfather but with it being on really late and it being a school night, I had to abandon ship. I've always intended to giving it another go but had never really had the time. The Godfather is a film that I have always wanted to see and, as a result, did have high expectations for it. Therefore, I was delighted that it not only lived up to but surpassed my expectations. The Godfather is a real treat of a film.
The film spans the years 1945 to 1955 and chronicles the life of the Italian-American Corleone crime family. Head of the family is Vito Corleone who tries to ensure that the business remains within the family. Unlike his two oldest sons, his youngest son Michael shows no interest in entering into the family business. When Vito barely survives an attempt on his life, his family is thrown into disarray as they are forced into hiding. Michael, despite his reluctance, steps in to take care of the would-be killers, launching a campaign of bloody revenge. The Godfather has a fantastic plot, with plenty of intrigue, twists and turns. It is the story of a family man sinking to questionable depths in order to retain some semblance of his humanity while trying to protect the one thing that he values most in the world - his family. It is also the story of a man reluctant to join the family business until he is left with no choice. The Godfather is an incredible character study into one man's eventual path to self destruction. For Michael, there is no going back. Its almost tragic as Michael's life could've gone a very different way. The Godfather tells its story brilliantly and makes use of its three hour runtime in the most efficient way possible. Every character is given room to breathe and the world in which the Corleone family inhabit is defined brilliantly. Despite being three hours in length, The Godfather is a film that flies by due to its thoroughly engaging story. The Godfather is an enthralling mix of crime epic, in-depth character study and family drama.
The cast for The Godfather is excellent and is easily one of the film's main highlights. The Godfather must surely have one of the best ensemble casts ever assembled. Marlon Brando and Al Pacino both deliver career defining performances. It is really easy to see why both of them are considered to be legends within the medium. Robert Duvall, John Cazale and James Caan are equally great in their roles. I really enjoy the interactions between these five actors. They are given wonderful support by a cast which includes talents such as Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Abe Vigoda and Sterling Hayden among many others. All are fantastic in their roles and each get their moment to shine. Keaton, in particular, was a revelation for me as I've always associated her with rom-coms. She steals every scene in which she appears in this film. Its hard to pick an individual performer when everyone is bringing their A game. I can't imagine a classier cast.
The Godfather is directed by Francis Ford Coppola who does an absolutely phenomenal job. Every shot is beautifully composed throughout this film and is achieved through flawless camerawork. The cinematography is absolutely superb and I'm pretty sure that I could frame any shot from this film and put it up on my wall. The Godfather really is a technical achievement on all fronts. The editing and production design are also great. The music score by Nino Rota is wonderful and adds so much to the world of the Corleone family. It is a soul stirring piece of work and feels like an extra character itself.
Overall, The Godfather is an amazing film. It is a phenomenal achievement within the medium of film. Every element is working to the maximum in order to achieve perfection. The storytelling is detailed and incredibly rich on both themes and characters. The performances from the cast are excellent, with some delivering career bests. The direction from Coppola is fantastic and ensures that The Godfather is a total technical achievement. The Godfather is a film that has gained the respect of cinephiles for a reason. It is a brilliant film from start to finish and one that is most deserving of the word "classic". They certainly don't make films like this any more. A masterpiece!
Side note: That poor Horse!