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Movie Review: The Godfather

The Godfather Movie review

The film that is analyzed in the paper is The Godfather directed by Francis Ford Coppola. This film is considered a masterpiece of cinematography. If to choose one moment, which has absorbed all splendor and charm of The Godfather, there is one scene that suits the best. On the background of the Statue of Liberty, Clemenza, a capo of Don Corleone, is waiting for his helper to kill an ordinary Mafioso. When the dirty work is done and they can go, Clemenza gently reminds the helper: “Leave the gun, take the cannoli”. It is not just a note of black humor in the midst of a serious film. In this phrase, there is the whole dynamics underlying in The Godfather – from the shackles of the criminal world to the warm family ties. Coppola’s masterpiece extremely naturally shows both these sides – with an operatic scale or with a touching intimacy. This fact is just one of the many advantages of the film, which undoubtedly ranks among the most outstanding achievements of cinema. The Godfather can be safely put on a par with the best representatives of the arts of any kind. The topic of the paper is to analyze the film The Godfather and its influence on subsequent cinematography. 

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The Godfather is the epic gangster drama directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It is a screen adaptation of the novel by Mario Puzo. The producer of the film is Albert Ruddy. The cameraman is Gordon Willis (Caldwell, 2011). The main roles are played by Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, and James Caan (Caldwell, 2011). Filming took place over four months in mid-1971 (Caldwell, 2011). The premiere was in March 1972 (Caldwell, 2011). Despite a low budget, The Godfather grossed whopping cash charges. The author Chris Messenger (2012) states that “The Godfather films were stunningly powerful for audiences all over the world” (p. 4). The film won the love of viewers thought the world. 

The film takes place in America in 1945-1955. Don Corleone conducts business under the old rules. However, there are different times and there are people who want to change the existing order. The story begins during a festive reception in the house of Don Vito Corleone in honor of the wedding of his daughter Connie. The house is full of guests as the Corleones are one of the most influential families in America. Numerous connections of the “godfather” provide a protection for most of the Sicilian clans in the territory of the New World. This fact is a guarantor of the capital increase and authority of the family. This situation does not suit the competitors. They decide to announce war to an influential clan. They have tried to kill Vito Corleone. However, everything ends with the injury not threatening to life. The injury temporarily displays the “godfather” of the game. At this point, one of Vito’s sons – Michael Corleone – comes to the fore. He is determined to win this war against other mafia clans whatever it may cost. The Godfather depicts not the mafia but the family and family relations in the broadest and most concrete sense of the word. The difference between the film’s story and its plot consists in the fact that the story tells the viewers about the business of the family but the plot – about firm family ties in this family. 

Immediately after the film was released in the world rolled, it became clear that it is a masterpiece. Critics and audiences unanimously admired the epic gangster drama. Both Coppola and Al Pacino became idols for millions of viewers. Significantly that the interest in the film did not cease with time. Even in the XXI century, The Godfather is considered one of the best films in cinematography. This film was found extremely significant in the United States and around the world. The direction of Francis Ford Coppola in conjunction with the game of outstanding actors and a wonderful script provided the film a success among critics and ordinary viewers. It can be said that the film contains much violence. However, in this case, it is only an artistic means for the reflection of the director’s vision and the creation of the appropriate atmosphere in the film.

However, the main drama of the film is the tragedy of Michael Corleone – a young man, a war hero, whose life and even soul is broken under the pressure of his responsibility, power, and interests of the family. His transformation into a cruel and treacherous boss is a one of the most elaborately illustrated metamorphosis in the history of world cinema.

The social message of The Godfather is ultimately bogged down in an insoluble paradox. The public condemnation of the myth of the “good” America as an agent of civilization along with a fighter with the savages and people outside the law cannot be separated from the propaganda of family values. The protection of these collective and limited values is conservative. The main goal of all illegal activities of Don Corleone is the power and prosperity of his clan and not himself. 

The Godfather could not become such a famous film without skillful usages of technological effects in the movie. The direction of the film is perfect. In the film, there is rigorous directorial control – on camera movements, colors, sound, and music. The result in terms of technology of cinema is incredible. The film should be seen for the story structure of the screenplay of Mario Puzo and the technicalities. The Godfather is full of improbable set pieces, moody lighting, and an excellent acting that has become a legend. Most scenes of the film are made in the dark rooms. The location is cloaked in dark shadows and only one part of actors’ faces is usually visible. The director uses the dark color palette when the Mafiosi meet behind the closed door. It adds the shadowy subject, which is explored. In the book Essential Cinema, it is stated that “The Godfather and the Godfather: Part II was the director’s signature style: an affection for theatrical mise-en-scene: stagey set pieces captured in long takes and a penchant for chiaroscuro lighting; a narrative focus on the family melodrama as opposed to the practical execution of crimes” (Lewis, 2013, p. 255). The director applies techniques of the camera angles to show the drama effect. Many critics note the incredible work of the cameraman – Gordon Willis (Lewis, 2013). Aesthetic choices in the movie reflect the views on the period depicted in the film. All the work was based on the thoughtful combined process of the whole team involved in the film. Music is a separate character in the film. Sentimental hits that sound on the record and on the radio are intertwined with various Catholic rites. The composer Nino Rota felt and reflected the task of the director.

Henceforth, The Godfather became classic. The film has anticipated the process of the resurrection of dying genres. In many ways, it has overcome the limits of the genre of the classic gangster drama. Another distinctive feature of the film is that it includes much privacy. If Easy Rider and Bonnie and Clyde opened the door to a new wave of filmmakers, The Godfather made the whole generation of young, bearded graduates of film schools threatening to break into the mainstream to look respectful (Lewis, 2013). In such a way, the film of Francis Ford Coppola made a great influence on future directors. The emergence of such filmmakers as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Matthew Robbins, Carroll Ballard, and others was possible only due to the resounding success of The Godfather (Lewis, 2013). It not only changed the landscape of the film industry but had an enormous impact on a film as such. In a broader sense, The Godfather became the epitome of organized crime, Italian, masculinity, and reverent attitude to the family. Orders of the real mafia have affected the film. However, the film equally influenced the demeanor and the image of the mafia. Despite this fact, the mafia has also had a great contribution on the film. The film was shot under the watchful eye of the Italian Mafia, which has made its adjustments in the movie. In such a way, it can be said that such a current in the society as the mafia has led to the creation of the film. 

The film has been criticized for the popularization of crime and demythologization (Lewis, 2013). However, it offers a frank portrayal of violence and murder while avoiding the image of Italian Americans simply as cruel and primitive blood-thirsty monsters. It is combined with a radical critique of the dominant American values that were absent before. The film has a subsequent impact on cinematography. The image of Don Corleone became the prototype for Carmine Falcone from the universe of DC Comics, Batman’s enemy (Lewis, 2013).

The film The Godfather was released for the first time in 1972. The spectator watches a story of a Sicilian family settled in the United States. At the time, this film received many reviews and won many awards. It still attracts the attention of viewers. In many ways, it is a perfect movie that combines the tastes of the audience, critics, and film industry. The Godfather has a strong storyline, memorable characters, superbly organized action, and emotional intensity befitting any classics of the genre. There are enough subtexts and difficulties to withstand the keenest critique analysis.

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Reflection

The purpose of the paper is to analyze and study one of the most outstanding films in the history of cinematography – The Godfather. During the course, I have learned to analyze and examine various aspects of films. Without a doubt, it helped me in writing this paper. At first it was hard to analyze the film from the point of view of directing, camera work, and work of the actors. However, after reading great deal of literature and studying the comments of many critics, it became easier to form an independent opinion regarding the movie.

To write this paper, it was necessary to watch the film The Godfather several times. Every time, I have noticed different aspects and details in this movie. At first, I watched this film as an ordinary viewer not paying attention to simple details that make The Godfather the masterpiece in cinematography. Nevertheless, analyzing every scene of the movie, I started to notice many small nuances such as the angles of the camera, the shadow in the room, and the expression on the actors’ faces. These details make the atmosphere in the film complete and perfect. 

There are several film theories that help analyze the films. All of them analyze the movies to comprehend how they founded reactions and responses in viewers and what they mean. To analyze the film, it is necessary to use not a single approach or a theory but a combination to receive the full meaning of the movie. However, to analyze The Godfather, the genre theory was mostly used. This film is considered a drama and a gangster film. Both these genres make adjustments to the plot. 

Through analyzing the film, it can be gained that the film is consisted of small parts that constitute the whole movie. It is necessary to watch every film noticing every scene. It has changed my way of watching the movies. Previously, I have not paid enough attention to work of actors or a camera. I have just watched a plot and a storyline. However, The Godfather has demonstrated that there is something more that the story in the film.  

During this course, I was able to gain such skills as watchfulness, curiosity, and scrupulosity. I think that will be extremely useful in my future life and career. This course also helped me understand that art and films in particular plays a significant role in people’s life. Every good film leaves a place for reflection.

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