Film of the Week 14 .12.20.
With the release of Francis Ford Coppola’s revised version of Godfather III, it is timely to look back at the definitive original, The Godfather, from 1972 which won three Oscars and is ranked as the second greatest film by the American Film Institute- Citizen Kane-the subject of the recent ‘Mank’ is first.
The film charts the family history of the Corleone crime dynasty from 1945 to 1955 under the patriarch, Vito Corleone who was an immigrant from Sicily, the story of which is told in Godfather II. He rules through absolute loyalty with any digression dealt with by instant death. As a picture of the internecine wars between the crime families in the States the film brilliantly and uncompromisingly shows the rivalry, deceit and deadly feuds in an orgy of violence. The combination of superb photography, dynamic editing, a haunting music score by Nino Rota and terrific performances make this a film that lives through the ages.
For Marlon Brando as Vito, it revived his career and won him the Best Actor award, even if he boycotted the ceremony. For Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, James Caan as his brother Sonny and Robert Duvall as the family legal go-to, the film was a career launch pad. There never has been such a dysfunctional family in the history of cinema- none are likeable, yet despite the violence we remain mesmerized by them and despite ourselves there are moments of genuine pathos. The Godfather is on the BBC I-Player for the next month.