“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse” has become one of the most popular and famous phrases to come out of a movie – ever. And that movie is The Godfather.
Set in 1940s New York, The Godfather tells the story of the Corleone family, a mafia, and their struggle to protect their legacy as rival families seek out their demise.
I will not write out a more detailed synopsis because it is near impossible to do so for this movie without ruining some plot moments. However, The Godfather is a tale that extends over many years without making it feel overstretched or even segregated into different time epochs.
The Godfather is a body of outstanding performances – and not only acting wise. The movie’s score, by Nino Rota, is haunting. Francis Ford Coppolla, a relative unknown at the time the movie was made, is absolutely brilliant in directing. The cinematography, run by Gordon Willis, plunges the movie’s character’s in their world perfectly.
The acting performances are beyond top-notch. Marlon Brando embodies the head of the Corleone family, Don Vito. His performance lets his character strut along the line of good and evil without blinking. As you watch Brando’s performance, you start remembering the many instances when you saw a character similar to Don Vito being acted out – be it with the voice, the attitude, the context…. And the many imitations of this character, after watching the movie, are justified.
The movie is also propelled by an outstanding performance by Al Pacino, as Don Vito’s son Michael, a returning war hero and a character that is even more fascinating that his father – wanting out of the “family business” because he thinks he doesn’t fit well with what they do. Diane Keaton is unrecognizable at first as Kay, Michael’s love interest and Robert Duvall is as mysterious as his enigmatic character Tom Hagen, Don Vito’s adopted son.
The Godfather is a movie in which, scene after scene, those making it prove they know what they’re doing. Be it the long wedding scene which sets the tone for a Machiavellian patriarchy, a character’s “bed” discovery, the many deaths that plague the mafia families, a character combing his hair in a restaurant nervously, etc… it keeps you attached, wanting to know how these characters would interact with what life throws at them.
It is no wonder The Godfather is considered one of the best movies ever made. There is an amount of ingenuity and creativity at work here that is unapproachable. Keep in mind this is a movie released about forty years ago (1972) – and there are movies today, with much better technology and resources available to them – that fail miserably at making something that would transcend the ages.