By: Alli Messick
Francis Coppola’s The Godfather is an astounding film about the mob, not glorifying the mafia in any way. The film focuses on the Corleone family and the struggles of how to stay on top and not get killed in the process. There is no beauty in murder, and The Godfather gives the audience the opportunity to feel the emotions of losing family members because of business. Marlon Brando channels Don Vito Corleone with utter finesse (gaining himself a well-deserved Oscar for best actor), Al Pacino shines bright as if he was already a renowned star, James Caan gives an excellent performance as a temperamental big brother, and Robert Duvall makes his presence known as the adopted son.
The hefty time of the movie only covers what needs to be seen in order to give a good storyline. Despite the length and sometimes dramatic and slow moving scenes, all of it is relevant. The different settings of the film keep the audience interested because of the beauty of Italy, the familiarity of New York, and the chaotic dialogue in Las Vegas.
The lighting sets the tone for every scene. The yellowish tint in the opening parts of the movie give the audience a way into the wedding by putting emphasis on the sun shining and giving it an overall happy feel at the reception. When things were sad or dramatic, for instance, when Don Corleone is shot, the lighting is dark and dim. It sets the mood for what is going on within the family. In the opening parts of the movie, the distinct music plays, becoming an unforgettable tune. Nino Rota composed a remarkable piece for the film, making it a trademark for years to come. The Godfather needed a unique, eery sound, and Rota gave it just that.
Coppola does incredibly well in portraying Mario Puzo’s novel and the not-so-luxurious lifestyles of mobsters. The film has no glorification of the mob, but rather shows the nasty inside. The Corleone family and its close associates have to deal with the family business, which is no pretty task. When the mob is involved, betrayal is everywhere, and family is everything. Unfortunately, those two pillars sometimes go hand-in-hand. Michael, once he becomes the Godfather, has Carlo killed because Carlo indirectly killed Sonny. Michael betrays his sister by killing her husband, but serves vengeance for his late brother.
Although there are little female speaking parts, the women hold a major role in the film, just like in any family. Kay (Diane Adams), Michael’s love interest and eventual wife, keeps Michael away from his family’s business for awhile before he has to assume the godfather roll. Despite her distaste for the business, she sticks with him and remains by his side. Michael’s sister is the angel of the family. Her brothers protect her with no mercy on anyone who harms her. The mother of the Corleone family has no major line in the movie, but her presence is noted when family affairs are taking place. The Godfather emphasizes men’s inclination, or persuasion, to be “the man” of the house and, essentially, do the dirty work for the family.
Coppola has done fabulously in shocking the directing world with his incredible talent for film. He came ready to work, and from his work has come a classic. This movie will last for decades as a must-see, and will always give the audience an “in” to the life of a mafia family.