Nov 1, 2008

The Godfather

The Godfather is the Don of all Sicilian-American guinea (a word quite often used in the film) mafia films. Francis Ford Coppola did an excellent job as an artisan directing a film about undesirable yet respectable members of his Mediterranean race. The Godfather is after all a master craftsman piece if not a work of art. A film that retains its power with each viewing. The editors of the film also deserve to be noted as the baptizing montage during the end of the film is one of the greatest of American cinema. The Godfather is a true teamwork project and not an auteur piece.

A young Al Pacino shines in the film staring as Michael Corleone, a war hero and college student turned master exterminator. Marlon Brando proves that he could dominate a film that he is not featured in very much. He also proved that he could use his method acting schools to play a top crime leader of a group he shares no blood with. Brando came out of the film as the actor making the most cash with his role as Don Vito. Few actors can claim they have such a varied and successful career with films like A Streetcar Named Desire, On The Waterfront, Last Tango in Paris, and The Godfather. Francis Ford Coppola knew that Brando was worth the extra money for his irreplaceable acting abilities.

Robert Duvall does an excellent job as Tom Hagen, the stoic adopted son of Don Vito. Being not of Sicilian blood (but “Kraut” and “Mick” blood), Hagen was the lawyer and consigliere. The Coen Brothers made the Italian mafia look like a bunch of moronic buffoons in Miller’s Crossing. I guess Francis Ford Coppola figured they would need a Mc-Aryan to be the “brains” of the Sicilian mafia family. Sicily is not known for its scholars. Tom Hagen is the man that demonstrates “self-control” and rationality in The Godfather.

Federico Fellini’s favorite composer Nina Rota lent his music making to The Godfather. A film such as The Godfather wouldn’t be complete without the emotionally engulfing sounds of Nina Rota. Martin Scorsese decided pop songs would be the best choices for his mafia flicks. Maybe Coppola has a little more class (or maybe not)? Francis Ford Coppola certainly did his time at film school when he decided to hire both Marlon Brando and Nina Rota. Now most American’s have heard a score from the composer that created musical works which brilliantly complimented the fantastic visual works of the legendary Federico Fellini.

It is no lie that The Godfather is one of the top ten best American films ever made. American film has always been a business, and with business comes the desire to create marketable products. The Godfather combines violence, a memorable score, competent directing, Eisenstein inspired editing montages, and good storytelling for a film that Hollywood can be proud. Francis Ford Coppola also owes his Sicilian ancestors and relatives a little credit for their film influence. I have always been more a fan of Italian cinema than Italian-America cinema. The Godfather is something the Italian-American community can be proud of.

-Ty E

1 comment:

Keith said...

Great write-on this film. It's definitely a classic. It's one of my favorite films of all time.