Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Movie of the Week- 100th Post Special

For my 100th Post- (We made it, baby!) I will review the best movie ever made and my favorite movie ever.

This week,


Starring- Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan, Diane Keaton

Winner of Best Picture and Best Actor, as well as other awards, The Godfather is AFI's third best film ever, and Conor's number one film of all time. Based on the bestseller by Mario Puzo, The Godfather is the epic story of the Corleone mafia family that launched director Francis Ford Coppola and much of his young cast to stardom, and reinvigorated Marlon Brando's career with his turn as Don Vito Corleone, aka the Godfather.

Puzo and Coppola's script brilliantly adapts Puzo's book into a sweepingly beautiful and tragic film that examines family more than it does the criminal underworld. I have always felt that The Godfather is the story about a family that happens to be involved in organized crime rather than about the mafia itself. The relationships and the struggle for parental and sibling respect and love are things that all families can relate to- regardless of their "business." In the case of the Corleones the business is illegitimate, but because of Don Vito's far reaching influence, they are almost impervious to any consequences. This all changes, however, when a drug kingpin wants to partner with the Corleones, but is rebuffed by the Don. Sollozo, the narcotics man, has the Don shot, leaving the family in chaos as the Don's sons are forced to pick up the pieces.

What happens next is the truly amazing part of The Godfather. Sonny (Caan), Michael (Pacino) and adopted son, Tom Hagen (Duvall) do their best to keep the family afloat, amid revenge killings and corrupt police who try to kill the Don while he recovers from the shooting. The back and forth between the brothers, and how they each deal with the circumstances is expertly directed by Coppola. The rapport that the actors had prior to shooting comes across on screen, as you truly believe that they are brothers. Caan is fabulous as the fiery Sonny, as is Duvall as the level headed Hagen, but the real kudos go to Pacino. Michael's evolution as a character is the real arc of the film, as he begins as an outsider who wants nothing to do with the family business, but gets drawn in after his father's near death. It is sad to think that Pacino wasn't wanted by the studio for the role of Michael because now it is impossible to imagine anyone else as the youngest Corleone son.

Michael's slide into the mafia world is brilliantly captured on screen in the famous dinner scene with Sollozo and corrupt police Captain McClusky. What follows is a sweeping love story that takes place as Michael is in exile in Sicily. Tragedies ensue, as they always do in crime families, and Michael is forced to return to take over the family from his father who has recovered, but is no longer the strong figure he once was. Pacino expertly makes his transformation throughout the film, and is helped along by the Corleone confederates who try to maintain the family's power despite long odds. By the end of the film we are overpowered by the idea of what family truly means, and how it can make us do things we never wanted to do.

While this film has been parodied and impersonated countless times, The Godfather is able to withstand them all because it is a truly timeless work of art. The direction, the dialogue, the cinematography and the fabulous ensemble cast set it apart from any competitors. Despite many problems during the shooting of the film, it could not be stopped from being great. It is all at once a crime drama, historical snapshot and family saga, and it has earned the greatest compliment of all- being featured on this blog.

Things to watch for-

The Baptism scene
Luca Brasi
That horse head
Nino Rota's iconic score
Toll booths can be deadly

"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."

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