The Godfather

The Godfather ★★★★★

I've just witnessed cinematic perfection.

Now, I'm only a budding cinephile, but I'll say this nevertheless: few films can come close to The Godfather in terms of storytelling, cinematography, thematic value, direction, and of course, acting. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen until the credits began to roll.

The technical brilliance of the film is apparent in the 40s and 50s aesthetic, in the way Francis Ford Coppola sets us up to understand the true power of the Godfather, and in the tight, merciless editing. There isn't a single unnecessary moment in the film. The cinematography and music score are haunting, giving the film a truly iconic look and feel.

Marlon Brando is the best of the lot as the eponymous Godfather. It's hard to believe that he was only forty-seven during the film's shooting; I could have sworn that he really was as old as he looked. Don Vito Corleone never comes across as cruel or ruthless despite the fact that he commissions so many killings, making for some of the most interesting characterization I've ever come across on film.

Al Pacino gives a career-making performance as Michael Corleone. Quiet, suave, and handsome, his progression from a reluctant bystander to the next Don Corleone is utterly fascinating. James Caan is also excellent (bada-bing!), as is Robert Duvall and the rest of the cast. In fact, nobody in the film strikes a single wrong chord.

Although Mario Puzo's novel was definitely entertaining, it had none of the elegance and restraint that is characteristic of the film. The Godfather as a film rises far above Puzo's mediocre prose (though it obviously takes advantage of his excellent plot) and ignores unnecessary subplots to become what it truly is: a family saga with shocking bursts of violence.

The Godfather is brilliant, gripping, and fascinating, every minute of it. The long running time all but disappears as the film pulls viewers into a dark, ambiguous world where the lines between good guy and bad guy are completely blurred.

I don't fully understand why I (and millions of other viewers) became so invested in the film. Perhaps it's because The Godfather is not so much about gangsters as it is about family loyalty and making the best out of a situation you never wanted to get into. And you appreciate the power of the film all the more because it is fully apparent just how much passion, talent, and love was funneled into creating The Godfather.

Brilliant. I can't wait to watch it again. And again. And again.

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