1970s Throwback review…The Godfather



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A few days ago, I came across a classic film screening because not many of the January titles were appealing to me. However, when I came across a cinema that was playing “The Godfather” (1972) it was an opportunity that I could not turn down. “The Godfather” is a movie I look up to and not because it is a mafia film that has led to many other great ideas years later on, but because of its dark cinematic elements throughout the film. The director Francis Ford Coppola uses vivid cinematography to set the tone for the negative elements associated with “The Godfather.” Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), and Sonny Corleone (James Caan) are the most ruthless and powerful mafia gang in New York. The patriarch is Vito, and nothing stands in his way of getting what he wants.


Even though many may assume Vito is the king in the beginning of the film, the main lead is Michael. He is Vito’s younger son and a World War II Marine and is not very enthusiastic about becoming like Vito. The conflict that comes around is in the hands of Vito. Vito refuses to help a rivalry group that wants to sell drugs. Due to Vito denying a request from rivals, tragic circumstances start to happen throughout the film, and now it is in the hands of Michael and he starts to go the route to go to war with other mafia families. The problem is that these problems could cause the Corleone family to fall apart.


With there being three “Godfather” films, the violence is fairly heavy in the first one, but I find more of the intensity is through the character’s emotions and dialogue. Coppola uses a generous amount of key elements to show that Michael is still new to having the crime matters in his own hands. The problem is that he defends his father despite all the crime, hatred, and negativity that his father and clan had built up over the years. As Michael says, “My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator,” the cinematography use is set to be quite faded with not so bright lights to enhance the inner emotions and stress that Michael has inherited thanks to his father and his family’s legacy. However, the lighting and cinematography is ten times darker in the moment where Vito is in conversation with Michael about a Hollywood big shot and says, “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse,” the lighting on Vito’s eyes is fairly faded to dark where we do not see much of his eyes. That is a brilliant and cinematic element, which heightens the suspense and stress that Michael has coming towards him. “The Godfather” leaves many questions and pieces for its viewers to piece together to understand. Certain problems are a bound and viewers are left to try and put the puzzles and scenarios together.


I find “The Godfather” to be a thrill ride full of politics, crime, and family. The element to all of these aspects however, is respect. Michael earns respect from his father’s legacy, and so have others. Michael, however, is the center of what is to come towards to him in the two other films (however this review is solely on the first one in the series). In terms of Michael’s position, viewers will notice that his reputation starts to grow in the first film and the other films.


Overall, “The Godfather” is a film that I believe every film fanatic needs to experience more than once. Not just for how good of a movie it is, but for its ambiance and breathtaking screenplay. Every character talks of serious matters, but the most serious ones are Michael and Vito. These two kings remind us of what destines a film to be a classic as is “The Godfather.” I will definitely be writing another review when I have the chance to view the second one in the theaters in a few months.

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