Adam’s Film Friday – A Review of The Godfather

Hello all and welcome back to another film Friday.  For the next three weeks, I am going to be reviewing the Godfather trilogy, which in my opinion is the greatest trilogy in film history.  Winner of three Academy awards: Best Picture, Actor, and Adapted Screenplay, this tale of family, mafia, and loyalty is considered to be a classic of the late 20th century.  I am ashamed to say as your esteemed film reviewer that I hadn’t seen any of the Godfathers until a month ago.  However now that I have, I had to review them!

The Godfather begins at the wedding of the Don Vito Corleone’s daughter.  Don Vito (Marlon Brando) is required to take requests from the wedding guests since it the Don’s daughter’s wedding.  Also at the wedding we meet his youngest son Michael (Al Pacino), who is just home from fighting in World War II and is reluctant to take part in the family business; Sonny (James Caan), his eldest son who is a bit of loose cannon; Fredo (John Cazale), his middle son who is generally considered to be the weakest; and last but not least his adopted son and business lawyer Tom Hagan (Robert Duvall).  After a failed assassination attempt on Don Vito, questions of loyalty and power are thrust onto this family, and an unlikely candidate stands to hold the future generation of the family business.

Like I had previously stated, I am quite ashamed that it has taken almost 25 and a half years for me to see the Godfather films. However, I will say that it was definitely worth the wait.  Part one was a perfect introduction to the series and an all-around amazing film.  From the story, which is based on Mario Puzo’s novel of the same title, to the acting and music, everything in this film screamed masterpiece.  The acting was superbly top-notch.  Not many films cast every role perfectly, but this film somehow did it.  Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone, who is the glue that holds this family together, was unbelievable.  He is one of, if not THE greatest actor of the 20th century.  Every character he played he became, and this role was no different.  Two other standouts, were Al Pacino in his breakout role as Michael and James Caan as the hot-headed brother Sonny.  It was really interesting to see these two actors play brothers, seeing how different their characters were and how they portrayed the differences between themselves.  Al Pacino’s performance was much more quiet and reserved, which really worked for the character, as Michael is the cautious brother, the quiet thinker of the family who is also very apprehensive about being a part of the family business. On the other hand, Sonny acts off of his emotions making James Caan’s performance a lot flashier and louder.  How neither of them won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor is beyond me.

Francis Ford Coppola is a genius behind the camera.  He has a way of making even the smallest shot count in really making the film.  Whether it was a pinnacle moment of the film or just a scene which showed people walking or eating, Coppola really made that scene feel important.  Every scene in the film counts and the finale is really a culmination of the entire piece.  Sometimes in films, little things happen and the director throws them to the side and kind of forgets that they happen.  The finale of this film really showed the progression of the characters and the story, and set up Part II outstandingly.  You really understand each character’s motives and how they got to the point in which they did.

All and all, The Godfather is one of the very few films that actually deserves the title of masterpiece.  The acting, director, screenwriting, score, and everything else about this film is perfect.  Like always, I will end my review with a question, and this one is based on a decision Michael has to make in the film.  Do you think it’s more important to stay loyal to the family, despite their wrongdoings, or do you think it’s more important to be good and lead the straight life? Until next time, happy viewing!

5 out of 5 stars