“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

Yes, even in 2011 I’m still (and always will be) fascinated with Mr. Al Pacino and his mafioso character from one of the definitive films of the 20th century, “The Godfather” – a triumph of cinematic storytelling. Not just for fans of gangster films. Family responsibility. A father’s legacy. The need to earn respect. The corrupting influence of power. These are some of the ingredients combined in Francis Ford Coppola’s cinematic blender. They are themes which have intrigued the greatest authors of every medium through the centuries.

One of the jewels in the crown of the 70s cinema (as some describe it, the Golden Decade), The Godfather tells the story of the Corleone family. Itialian immigrants, caring people, and mafioso. From the first frame in which you see Marlon Brando’s face lit from in front and above like a dark angel to the last frame of the last film in which Al Pacino’s wineglass falls out of his hand as he slumps, the family gone and destroyed, The Godfather is the holy trinity of mob films. Every film after it has its influences in it, and, much like some people look towards the Star Wars trilogy for an answer to every question, many people do so for The Godfather.

I’ve just re-seeen the first part of it. And I realized I’m still fascinated with Al Pacino (Michael). His acting is purely brilliant. You just can’t not fall in love with him. Just try to recall the incredible well-constructed (and disturbing) scene where Michael stands serenely as godfather of Connie and Carlo’s son, and, as the christening proceeds – following his direct command – Corleone assassins murder each of the dons heading the other New York families. His transformation from “innocent” bystander to central manipulator is the stuff of a Shakespearean tragedy. By the end, this man who claimed to be different from the rest of his family has become more ruthless than Don Vito (Marlon Brando) ever was.

As scary as it is intelligent, as funny as it is touching, The Godfather is a prime example of the way cinema should be: excellent telling of complete stories. It is the film to top all films, one of the finest motion pictures not only of our time but of any time. As trite as all of these labels may sound, they are true. The Godfather has already stood the test of a quarter century, which equates to a quarter of the history of film. It will stand the test of time as time continues to plod on. As long as they teach cinema, they will teach The Godfather.

Of course, it may not be possible for a film to be faultless, but this certainly comes close. The ensemble cast are wholly convincing, and there are a string of well-known names involved who weren’t at all familiar until this film. The story progresses at perfectly measured pace, moving almost gently between moments of calculated violence. The cinematography and direction are picture-perfect, with immaculate attention to detail. Every aspect of life in those turbulent times is faithfully recreated with great accuracy. “The Godfather” is a credit to all involved.

Although the issues presented in The Godfather are universal in scope, the characters and setting are decidedly ethnic. Even to this day, there is an odd romanticism associated with New York’s Italian crime families. The word “Mafia” conjures up images of the sinister and mysterious – scenes of the sort where Luca Brasi meets his fate. Francis Ford Coppola has tapped into this fascination and woven it as yet another element of the many that make his motion picture a compelling experience.

We come to The Godfather like Kay Adams – outsiders uncertain in our expectations – but it doesn’t take long for us to be captivated by this intricate, violent world. The film can be viewed on many levels, with equal satisfaction awaiting those who just want a good story, and those who demand much more. The Godfather is long, yes – but it is one-hundred seventy minutes well-spent. When the closing credits roll, only a portion of the story has been told. Yet that last haunting image (Kay’s shock of recognition – as the film ends, Kay sees Michael receiving gestures of respect from other mafiosi, paralleling the treatment given his father, just before the door to his office is closed.), coupled with Nino Rota’s mournful score, leaves a crater-like impression that The Godfather part II only deepens.

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18 thoughts on ““I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

  1. this is the best godfather review I have ever read. seriously. and what an incredible movie. they don’t make them like they use to.

    • i always thought there’s smth extraordinary about this movie.
      but, in spite of every written sentence, i still can’t put my finger on it. 🙂

      “li faro un’offerta difficile da rifiutare.” brilliant! i love Italian. 🙂 there was a time when i was learning italian by watching cartoons and reading about john gotti, the godfather etc. i have original methods when i want to learn smth, gotta admit. : ))

      • so when are you watching the second one?? the scene where Michael slaps Kay is without a doubt one of the most dramatic moments in all of cinema. and then the scene with Fredo in the boat… saying his Hail Mary… the cut away to Michael… the sound of the gunshot… Michael drops his head… AMAZING! Can you believe that I’ve never been able to convince my brother to watch any of those movies. Oh well. His loss…

      • watching the second and third part – checked.
        but i don’t think i’ll write about any time soon, i was up all night in order to re-watch them. :S i didn’t plan it, i just couldn’t pause it anymore.
        P.S.: tie your brother to a chair and make him watch. 😀

      • the third one? I’m sorry. I liked where Coppola was headed with the film… but the execution was poor. That movie is only worth two scenes: Michael’s scream on the staircase… and Michael keeling over at the end.

        Fun Fact: Coppola originally wanted to call the third film “The Death of Michael Corleone.” The catch would be that Michael actually dies of old age… having caused the death of the only two women he had ever loved: Apollonia and his daughter. Truly tragic (again, that’s about the only value the third film has, IMO.) Unfortunately the studio insisted the movie be called “Godfather 3” in hopes of capitalizing on the name. Ah… so it goes…

      • … maybe because in the third part Michael is somehow … pulled out of the film’s center, so the rest of the action seems ungrounded. it loses that moral dimenion of the first two parts… and so it becomes just another mob story… not to mention that Michael from the third part bears little resemblance to himself. he has lost its sinister bend, his murderous darkness, he’s just a business man now, he has lost what made him interesting.
        … also, my Mr. Al Pacino… for the most part, he busies himself by paying attention to the details of playing an older man and goes not much deeper than that.
        i also did not like some of Coppola’s choices… having Michael collapse suddenly into a diabetic coma when it was never mentioned that he suffers from the disease (wtf?)… this seems been made out of desperation. and some of the plotting (like the handling of a conflict between the Corleones and the Luchese family) is tangled beyond comprehension, at least from my point of view. also, Diane Keaton suffers tremendously from having no real function except to nag Michael for his past sins…. not to mention Connie… at one moment she’s someone, and the next she’s someone else, i see no coherence in his character. but i liked very much Andy Garcia. its’ the film’s strongest. he seems to be the only actor in the film who knows exactly what he’s playing: he is strong in the uncomplicated way Don Vito was. i also discovered Joe Mantegna, as Joey Zaza. he’s almost charming (you cand find him in Criminal Minds as agent Rossi, love his character). on the othr hand Sofia Coppola is so… lame. true, Godfather III adds little more than a sad footnote to I and II. but you have to admit, Coppola/Coppola’s incredible talent had a chance of resurfacing. it was here. he just didn’t take it.

      • … anyway, good or bad, mr. al pacino worths a watch.
        ps: if i put together our comments, i think it will result a review. : ))

      • but you make a good point about his acting in Godfather 3. He dwells too much on being old, as opposed to being Michael Corleone. I totally place the blame on Coppola, however.

        As for Pacino’s other body of work: I love Serpico. And Dog Day Afternoon… which also stars John Cazale (Fredo)! Have you seen? Have you seen?

      • yup. saw it. i used to be obsessed with pacino. OBSESSED. : ))
        … damn, i realize i have to re-watch so many movies… i really like the way age changes people’s perspective and approach. ps: anyway, lately i’m stuck in animations : )), so the re-watching will have to wait a little bit. : D

      • p.s.: local time in RO is around 6-7 hours ahead of U.S., so… i wish you to have a great afternoon while i go to sleep (23:00 PM). hehe, i see the stars and lots of snow; all that while you and your friends are enjoying the sun. noooooooot fair.

      • I was wondering what our time difference was. Well at least you live in the future. My future at least… time wise, I mean! haha

        Have a great weekend! Next week we can talk more Pacino, Coppola, Kubrick, and animations!!

      • thanks. 🙂 have a great weekend, too.
        watching the godfather all night long wasn’t a brilliant idea. i will never do that again. ever. : D
        as for the future… man, i’d LOVE to get on a bus and just find myself in 3011. or 30011. just imagine.

      • Just avoid 3001 (The Final Odyssey.) Not Clarke’s finest. 😛

      • i’ll keep that in mind. but one day i’ll travel back to the future, you’ll see. 😛
        ps: i just discovered that Azazel (a character from The Fallen) is also the name of short story written by Asimov. world’s too small. :-S
        okay, i’m going, i’m going.

  2. i like it

  3. cool

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