Danny B’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Don Vito Corleone, head of a mafia family, decides to hand over his empire to his youngest son Michael. However, his decision unintentionally puts the lives of his loved ones in grave danger."
Still a bona-fide classic of the highest order. No idea what I was smoking when I only gave this 4 stars previously. A masterwork through and through, easily earning its place as one of the greatest films ever made and a defining piece of work within its genre.
The family dynamic of the Corleone family is one that is so engrossing and tragic it was impossible not to let the 3 hour runtime fly by. While much of the focus seems to be on Marlon Brando's Don Corleone, the real MVP is Al Pacino. Pacino is an actor who has sadly become a parody of himself in recent years, so it's so refreshing to see him in some subdued early work, charting his rise as Michael Corleone with subtlety and tragedy. The closing scene is utterly devastating. There's some truly spectacular character work here that makes all the Important players very well fleshed out and worth investing in.
What really makes The Godfather work is its relentless pacing for a 3 hour film. Not one minute is wasted as the world is built through sharp dialogue and compelling meetings that give you a sense of the era and how these people work. While their morality is murky at best, you see these are people that ultimately want the best for their family and people they care about, no matter the collateral damage and chaos it causes around them. Despite juggling so many characters and side plots, it's all still so remarkably straight forward and easy to understand. Even for someone as mentally challenged as me.
From the pitch black opening of the Don accepting favours on his daughter's wedding day, to the horrific baptism and massacre scene, Godfather is not short on iconic moments and imagery. The horses head in the bed is an image that's stuck with me since I was very young due to seeing moments on late night TV, but that's not even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to memorable moments and brutality.
While organised crime is a hard genre for most to make work, as these characters are deep down monsters and hard to root for, Francis Ford Copolla makes it look effortless. Never once making this lifestyle look fun or glamorous, instead just making it tragic and relentlessly awful, despite the perks of such a life. I really don't understand people who watch films like this and Goodfellas and think it glamourizes these people. It does the exact opposite.
The Godfather still holds the candle of not just being one the best crime films of all-time, but one of the best ever made. A 3 hour long epic that feels half the length and not a single moment, character or scene is wasted.