The Godfather Review

By: Gabrielle Napier

           The fear of the unknown is arguable the most common fear in America. The inner workings of the mafia are unknown to the rest of the country, ensuing fear in the hearts of all, and leaving us with the hope of a glance inside that dark world. Francis Ford Coppola’s latest film entitled The Godfather gives us the peek that we have been craving. Based on a book by Mario Puzo, Coppola’s film takes it audience through the story of the rise and fall of the Corleone family. Easily a film to propel or jump-start many careers, Coppola’s cast includes Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, and Diane Keaton. The Italian-American family, led by Don Vito Corleone, played by Brando, exposes the nitty-gritty business that occurs at the heart of the mafia. Dedicated to family loyalty and respect for elders, Don Vito leads the Corleone family through deals and decisions, taking care of any issues that may arise, using any means necessary. The drama ensues when Don Vito declines a business deal, and all hell brakes loose. Godfather to seemingly all, Don Vito’s strong will ensue a violent, yet charming story line.

As the family struggles to remain on top, the audience is captivated by bursts of violence followed by a plea for peace. This film does such an excellent job paying homage to the Italian-American groups, that there is no surprise it is a chart-topper. The intentional dark lighting uses a yellow hue to convey the authenticity of each scene. The intensity of the mafia is felt from the opening scene, Don Vito’s daughter’s wedding, during which Don Vito does his job meeting with family members to make sure they are taken care of, and clearing any issues they may face. Michael Corleone, played by Pacino, opts out of the family mafia business and thrives as a war hero until a rival mafia crosses his family, leaving Don Vito struggling to survive. Michael meets with two of the rival mafia’s leaders, and following his father’s motto to “make him an offer he couldn’t refuse,” Michael kills both men before escaping to Italy. Michael’s love interest, Kay Adams, played by Diane Keaton, initially waits around for him, but eventually moves on with her life until he shows up and sweet talks her right back into his arms. Upon their marriage, Michael ends up taking over the family mafia business, and he realizes it was his destiny. A turn of events and a lapse in loyalty creates tension between Michael and his brother-in-law, Carlo Rizzi. Terrified for his life, Carlo, played by Gianni Russo, begs for forgiveness after aiding a rival family. Michael’s charm and cool attitude eases Carlo’s nerves, but how he felt genuinely safe is beyond my understanding. He crossed the head of a mafia family, so naturally, the next scene depicts exactly what you would expect when someone stabs the mafia in the back. Through every attempted and successful kill, the audience can’t help but root for the war-hero-turned-mafia-leader.

Coppola’s vision for this film came to life onscreen, and all one hundred seventy-eight minutes is irresistibly entertaining. In many cases, most people consider the book version of a story better than the movie version, but there is just not a chance that Mario Puzo’s original work can ever live up to the incredibly high standard Coppola’s film has set. The lasting message that loyalty is the most important aspect of family is so eminent in every decision made. Godfather to his sister’s baby, Michael’s new journey as head of the Corleone family cannot be compared to any story previously told. My last words are simple: well done, Francis Coppola, well done.