Monday, April 11, 2011

The Godfather 1 - A review

Rarely does a film tell as many diverse-yet-interconnected stories. Strong performances, solid directing, and a tightly plotted script all contribute to The Godfather 's success. This motion picture was not slapped together to satiate the appetite of the masses; it was carefully and painstakingly crafted.

Kudos to Francis Ford Coppola for a brilliant translation of Mario Puzo’s novel. The characteristic that sets this film apart from so many of its predecessors and successors is its ability to weave the often-disparate layers of story into a cohesive whole. Any of the individual issues explored by The Godfather are strong enough to form the foundation of a movie. Here, however, bolstered by so many complimentary themes, each is given added resonance. The picture is a series of mini-climaxes, all building to the devastating, definitive conclusion.

The style of this film is to develop the thematic environment in great detail. Many of the scenes and sub stories, such as the opening wedding sequence, are to establish the methods, motives, means of evaluation, and purposes of these Objective Characters. These are not scenes, which are necessary according to the Story form, but they establish rules of behavior, which remain consistent for the rest of the film.

Had the casting for the lead roles of Don Vito or Michael differed The Godfather would be rather different in its approach. The extremely long reaction shots and crisp dialogues raise bumps on a viewer’s arm as these powerful actors take screen. Every major character - and more than a few minor ones - is molded into a distinct, complex individual.

The cinematography, which casts the early parts of the film in slight sepia tones and covers many scenes in a deep veil of shadow, is beautifully controlled. The cinematographer has also used contrasting lighting with the Don’s scenes clearly differentiating between the relationship of the don with his family and his business, which plays a role in showing the character of the don, which is portrayed to be of man who keeps his business and family apart.

Most of the don’s shots are taken below eye level symbolizing his law and authority; also the characters that are degraded or beaten down are shot with a top angle intensifying hierarchy in the film. The post-war era is splendidly recreated. On the aural side, the score by Nino Rota is immensely memorable and startlingly evocative of certain key moments.

Coppola’s Direction fails to intrigue the audience towards the middle of the film as the pace of the film and its suspense tremendously decreases from the first half. Also during Mike’s stay in Sicily the shots are over done and very long and is a sheer bore and disappointment from the first half, he gradually again picks up and maintain interest. Also using the head of a horse in the film producer’s bed was an establishing factor of the Don’s power, which I felt was strongly played.

"The Godfather," shows a tremendous amount of family values throughout the film. I think the best line in the film is when Don says to Mike " A man who does not spend time with his family is not a man."

The film can be viewed on many levels, with equal satisfaction awaiting those who just want a good story, and those who demand much more. The Godfather is long, yes - but it is one-hundred seventy minutes well-spent. When the closing credits roll, only a portion of the story has been told. Yet that last haunting image (Kay's shock of recognition), coupled with Nino Rota's mournful score, leaves a crater-like impression.

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