Monday, January 09, 2006

The Godfather

Paramount Pictures
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Length: 175 min.
Format: DVD
Date Viewed: 8 January

I'm glad I gave "The Godfather" a second chance. Expectations were set far too high for me when I first saw it, and seeing it again allowed me to lower them to the appropriate level. No, "The Godfather" is not one of the best films of all time. Not even close. It's not even Coppola's best work (that would be the theatrical cut of "Apocalypse Now"). It is a strong tale of a Mafia gang war, though, with great performances (one of Pacino's very few good performances - you heard me right), gorgeous cinematography and excellent editing. Seeing how a crime family utilizes its rackets and crooked government and uniformed officials gives us an interesting insight that we often only see in the papers when a family is brought down. Personally, though, I prefer the street-level view of a family, and how the day-to-day operations work, which is why I prefer "GoodFellas" to "The Godfather," which, of course, is a subjective preference. However, "The Godfather" suffers from major flaws that keep it from being one of the greatest films of all time. The first is the sequence in Italy, which brings the film grinding to a halt and provides us with nothing of interest or importance, and seems only present in order to give Coppola a chance to visit "the old country." The more important flaw is in Pacino's entry into the family business. He starts not wanting to do it; he goes to college and joins the Marines to avoid entering the business. He is not interested in murder and the other, lesser dirty jobs of the mob. But his dad gets shot and immediately he's in. There's little in the way of meaningful internal conflict or real motivation, and it frankly becomes a little hard to buy the key narrative transition of the entire film. Pacino does what he can with the script, though, and turns in a fine performance, especially during the Louis' Restaurant sequence.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, your idea that Michael Corleone has little motivation to join the mob is kind of strange. Let's see...his father was attacked by his enemies. Then while at the hospital, they attempt go after him again, and Michael sees what his father means to many in the community, especially since the police force is corrupt. By killing, he gets revenge both for himself and his father--this may be a one-time thing, after all Sonny is the one in charge. Then Michael's wife and Sonny get killed while he's in Sicily. Did you miss the point about "famiglia" being important? Or revenge? Not liking the movie is fine, but I think you don't like it because you didn't understand it. Also, the Italy scenes make much more sense in the context of the 2nd movie, but if you take the first movie on its own merits, you have a point.

09 July, 2006 01:39  
Blogger Kyle Smith said...

I understand fully the importance of family in Italian culture, and about the plot points surrounding Michael's entry into the family. I just feel that since the film sets heavily sets-up Michael's adamant resistance to "the family business" that when he sees his dad shot, regardless of Vito's importance to the family and community, there should have been more to Michael's entry into the family (assuming that the threat of imminent death over business dealings, a "lower cause" - as opposed to imminent death over warfare, a "higher cause" - is one of the reasons that Michael resists joining the "family"). It's a rushed transition and the film would have been more interesting had it focused on Michael's inner conflict during the second act instead of having him cave so quickly, especially since it wastes so much time in Italy (which I look at free from the context of the second film).

10 July, 2006 00:19  

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