DIRECTOR: Francis Ford Coppola
May Contain Spoilers!
Recognised as one of the Greatest films of all time, The Godfather is certainly in a league of its own. Boasting a cast to die for by today’s standards, Coppola’s version of Mario Puzo’s best seller, has become the measuring stick to which all other gangster films are compared.
And with good reason, as this is as much a move away from James Cagney as Batman Begins was from Adam West’s lyrca clad superhero. The Godfather introduced complexity, style, gritty realism and above all, family values to organise criminals, demonstrating the complexity and duality of people who are both driven by business acumen and old country honour. And how both often lead to brutality and death.
This is a long watch, a drama which could have easily being made as a mini-series but would have been lost in the minutia of television if it had of being. But not only was the cast a dream, with Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, at his best, Diane Keaton and Robert Duval, they are all on top form, and all help the budding director create one of cinema’s most gripping and outstanding masterpieces. This was a game changer and one which if it had never been made would have left a gaping hole in modern cinema.
Mario Puzo’s courage to write a novel humanising mobsters is in itself a triumph and to do so with such success is a credit to all concerned. But even though I would love to write a glowing review, I must stand by my views even if they are conflicted. This isn’t the best film ever made in my opinion. It IS a masterpiece, without a doubt and it must stand as a great and on which would have changed the world with its absence if it was not here, but this is not a film which I watch regularly.
The reason is that I am only 34. This film was 40 years old in 2012. If I had seen this back in 1972 then its impact would have been tremendous I have no doubt. What makes this film both work and tick are everything which I’m looking for in a game changer but it leaves me a little cold. Plus the fact that I’m not the biggest gangster film fan, but there’s no doubt that I do watch this, it’s riveting and an experience of the kind which keeps me in love with movies as a whole.
The script is shocking, tense and yet gentle, with just the right dose of sentiment punctuated with graphic and horrendous violence, perfectly pitching its thesis on organised crime as both a business and an archaic institution. Its gritty feel and lived in tone would embody 1970’s cinema perfectly as well as to draw us in to a very real and dangerous world. But this must surly appeal to wide range of cinema goers, from hard-core gangster film fans, to those who love drama, procedurals and thrillers.
I would like to say that is Francis Ford Coppola’s best work, but we haven’t touched on The Godfather Part II yet…