Anthony's Film Review

The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather paints a delicate portrait of life and organized crime...

The Godfather has been, and still is, hailed as the quintessential Mafia movie. I admit that I'm one of those people who had gone a long time without seeing it. The more I heard people talk about it, the more I felt inclined to see it. I wasn't sure how much I would like it, but at least I could avoid being unknowledgeable in any conversation that discusses the film. So that's why I finally rented it. With that, here are my main thoughts.

The beginning of the movie gives us an idea of how the whole movie is structured. It starts with a scene in a dim office where crime boss Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is discussing a deal with a man who wants vengeance for a woman who was killed. Immediately, you can see what kind of character the Don is: willing to negotiate but does it carefully to ensure a fair trade. In contrast, there is a joyous wedding outside for Vito's daughter Connie (Talia Shire). There is virtually no sign of a mobster presence. Also, the Don's son Michael (Al Pacino) is at this event with his girlfriend, Kay Adams (Diane Keaton), telling her that his family is in the crime business but attempts to distance himself from it.

This is a good time for me to mention the film's famous and very clever quote: "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse." What does that mean? At first glance, you might think of that as something with great rewards attached. In The Godfather, it's something else: a deal that involves a choice between doing what the mob wants and having something terrible happen, which is often death. Any rational person wouldn't want to refuse such an offer. And that's how this mob can be so powerful and influential. This is greatly illustrated by a scene where a man in Hollywood refuses an offer and finds himself with the decapitated head of his prized horse.

From there, the story becomes a long series of events that, as structured as the beginning of the movie, alternate between events of crime and moments of a normal life. Michael Corleone is the central character throughout all of this. He is accompanied by other characters, include Santino "Sonny" Corleone (James Caan) and, of course, his father Vito who continues to keep the business going. I was rather surprised by how the story doesn't focus too much on the work of crime as much as life outside it. That is perhaps the real point of the story: trying to live just like everyone else but having a deadly line of work as an unpleasant but necessary means for survival.

Besides being a portrait of life inside and outside the mob, The Godfather is the tale of a character's transformation. Michael Corleone vowed to stay out of the crime business, yet he has no choice but to get involved. This begins a journey where he eventually becomes his father and fills his shoes. It's interesting how Michael makes this transition in a very gradual manner such that you're not even sure if he will accept his role in the crime business. It's one thing to have a story where the direction the character takes is clear. In this movie, all you can do is watch and wait. That's the beauty of it.

I may be in the minority when I say that The Godfather may not be one of the greatest movies I've ever seen, but I still liked it a lot. I can appreciate why the film's most enthusiastic admirers love it so much and why it earned many awards. It's an epic story with great characters and drama, thanks to the creative minds of Mario Puzo who wrote the original novel and director Francis Ford Coppola who adapted the story to film. The Godfather is indeed a classic, a film that a cinephile can't refuse.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about The Godfather, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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