Tuesday, November 30, 2010

1972: The Godfather

Don Vito Corleone, the patriarch of a crime family, is getting old, but he holds New York City in the palm of his hand.  He gets people to do things for his family and friends by making them offers they can't refuse.  He is generally feared and respected, until he angers his rivals by refusing to start backing the narcotics business.

Surprisingly, I had not seen this movie before, even though it is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made.  To fully appreciate it, I think I'll need to watch it again, probably several times.  But my first impression is this: I love the way the film was made, but I really don't like the story.  It's profoundly disturbing the way everyone just kills other people without thinking about it.  They all just consider it part of their business to hold a gun up to someone's head.  I know it's supposed to be unsettling; that's the point.  But that doesn't make it any more enjoyable to sit through three hours of disturbing storyline.

That being said, the movie is put together magnificently.  The framing of the shots, the editing, and the score unite perfectly with the script and performances to create a true film masterpiece.  There are some great scenes, particularly toward the end of the film, that I call "great" not because of what they portray, but how they portray it.  In addition to Best Picture, this film also won Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor for Marlon Brando, who plays Don Vito Corleone to perfection, despite the fact that it's really hard to understand him.  Robert Duvall, Al Pacino, and James Caan were all nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but they lost to Joel Grey for Cabaret.  This is something that makes me angry: a mediocre film like Gigi won nine Oscars, while this epic, classic film only won three?  But Cabaret, which took most of the Oscars in 1972, is also a really good movie, so I guess it's not the Academy's fault that two stellar films came out the same year.

When I first started watching The Godfather, I fully expected to conclude that it was overrated, at least a little bit.  But after finishing the entire film, even though I didn't particularly like the story, I have to concede that it's one of the most well-done films I've ever seen.

Stay tuned for: The Sting (and afterwards, The Godfather Part II)

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