45. The Godfather (1973)

Title: The Godfather

Release Date: 14 March, 1972

Oscar Ceremony: 27 March, 1973

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan


Nominees: Cabaret, Deliverance, The Emigrants, Sounder


“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” – Vito Corleone

Woah! Where has the time gone? Last I saw Marlon Brando he was still a young stud who made all the ladies swoon and now he’s a mumbling middle-aged Italian man who’s the head of a crime family. Interesting transition. I’m rather ashamed to admit that I have never gotten around to watching The Godfather until now. I finally understand why most people refer to it as the greatest movie of all time.

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One of the best things about this movie is that it has a captivating plot. A lot of the 3-hour Oscar movies so far (with a few exceptions, of course), tend to get very boring, redundant or disjointed. Sometimes, it takes a full hour before anything actually happens. That’s not the case with The Godfather; it wastes NO time setting the mood.

The movie opens with the wedding of Connie Corleone (Talia Shire), the youngest Corleone child. Since it’s tradition that no true Sicilian cannot refuse any requests on his daughter’s wedding day, Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), the head of the family, also known as “The Godfather,” sits in his office and receives various guests who ask him favours. It’s immediately clear who’s boss and Brando does a fantastic job at getting into character. Meanwhile, the wedding also serves as the perfect occasion to introduce us to the rest of the family, and whoever else might be important. First there’s Sonny Corleone (James Caan), the eldest child and next in line to become Don. Then there’s Fredo, who seems kind of dumb and useless in this movie. Finally, there’s Michael (Al Pacino), the youngest Corleone son who deliberately draws a line between him and his family. He’s a decorated WW2 veteran who also happened to have attended college. He thinks of himself as an honest man, and brings along his college sweetheart Kay (Diane Keaton) to the wedding. I guess I should also mention Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), the Corleone family lawyer and “consigliere.” Vito practically considers him as one of his own.

Little anecdotes happen here and there to further set the tone, but the plot really kicks off when Vito Corleone gets shot after an argument between rival families over narcotics business. The thing is, you can’t just mess with the family and get away with it so easily. War is on.

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Who doesn’t love a good family drama? Better yet, who doesn’t love a good ITALIAN family drama? You know things are never boring when shady Italian folks are involved. On a more serious note, The Godfather is fantastic. Time flies when you watch it as every detail in every scene is carefully crafted to keep your eyes glued to the screen. There’s always a moment of suspense and you know nothing is off the table when it comes to the Corleone family. I can even go as far as saying that 3 hours is not long enough, because there are a lot of jumps in the future, which sometimes leave you wondering what happened during the time you lost. I think this could have worked really well as a TV show because there’s just so many stories to tell and so many characters to explore. Michael Corleone’s character in particular is very fascinating, so I’m glad this movie focused a lot on him.

The other great gifts The Godfather has blessed us with are its script and score. Every line is delivered so meticulously by the actors, and a lot of them stay with you for a long time. No wonder it’s one of the most quotable movies of all time. As for the score, just listen to the main theme. You might not notice it so much while watching, but every time you’ll hear it afterwards, you’ll instantly relive your viewing experience all over again.

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Julian initially said he wanted to contribute to this review because he has seen The Godfather many times and it’s one of his favourite films. However, it didn’t take long for him to give up and say it’s too hard. I was going to say that I’d like to watch it a few more times in order to fully grasp it, but I guess even then it’s still hard to do it justice. In the end, there are so many different aspects that, when put together, make the movie the legend that it is. We can spend a lifetime picking it apart, but that’s not the point. The point is, it just WORKS. People often argue when it comes to movies, but it seems like The Godfather is just one of those works that unites us all; everyone can agree that it’s going to live on for a very, very long time.

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