So, I am gonna get a lot of flack for this, but I watched The Godfather for the first time tonight. I remember trying to watch it one in my late teens, but could not get through it. Once the blu-ray version hit, I knew I had to finally watch the film that some consider to be the greatest of all time—don’t believe me, go to rottentomatoes.com
I shall not go to great lengths to dissect and critique the film; that has already been done countless times. I just want to provide a little commentary on this gem I finally uncovered.
If one word could describe this film, it would be epic. Oh wait, sorry, that was cliché. Friggin monumental. Happy?
The growth these characters experience is huge. The whole film is really the tragedy of Michael (Al Pacino). Going into the film I heard nothing but how great Brando is in this film. Brando is the Godfather. His facial expressions and mannerisms he brings to the character is nothing short of sublime. It is a study in method acting at its finest. The odd thing with the film is the large chunks of film in which Brando is absent. For such an amazing actor I expected to see him throughout the film, but he just came and went. The real hero[?] of this story is Pacino’s character. We see him go from the bright eyed WW2 hero, full of good intentions, and lacking in the moral ambiguities present in the rest of the Corleone family to a ruthless organized crime leader willing to murder all who get in his way—even those connected to his family. Some might be quick to compare Pacino’s character in the 3rd act to his character in Scarface. That would be a huge disservice to the character and the Godfather film in general. The Godfather never romanticizes or glorifies the crime activities of the Corleones. It shows us the gritty, true to life nature of the seedy business. It isn’t beautiful. And at times it is hard to find someone to root for. In the end, I found myself rooting for Michael not to fall, and those connected to him not to pay the price for his downturn.
Aside from the characterization and plot, the film succeeds cinematographically too. New York is gritty, dirty, and bleak. The immersion in the time period stands out until it becomes expected. The film really brings you into the era and makes it seem like postwar America. Sicily is shot beautifully as well. So much that any avid film buff should avail himself to view this in blu-ray. Aside from the high definition, several key scenes are framed to perfection. The cannolli scene with the Statute of Liberty peeking over the tall grass stands out as the most memorable. Most of the better shots occur in Sicily, at least in my opinion.
One thing to be said about the ending. The editing here is some of the best i’ve seen. Upon viewing, I recalled several times when i’ve seen films pay homage (or steal) what The Godfather does here. The baptism cut in with the murders is… well, it is one of the most beautiful things i’ve ever seen.
I really cannot find any fault in this film. Sure, it is a bit long, but worth every minute. It oozes of rich storytelling and extraordinary characterization. Like the title says, seeing this film makes most films i’ve watched in the past few months (or years?) disappointing. Perhaps i’m stroking this film too much, but gosh darn it is it good. Being one of the most loved films of all time, it is hard to seem like i’m jumping on the bandwagon. But when a film is this good, can you really blame a guy?
Is this a pick for the film draft? If David doesn’t get it. Is my nose brown after this review? Maybe. Can’t wait to check out part two. When I do, you’ll hear it first.