Even half a century since its release, it shouldn’t be difficult to convince you why The Godfather is worth catching this weekend for its anniversary.
It’s The Godfather – the title itself is practically a synonym for good cinema. Adapted from Mario Puzo’s novel, Francis Ford Coppola had to fight to get his vision on screen.
He wasn’t the first choice of director, and had to battle studio Paramount to cast Marlon Brando, by then seen as a washed-up shadow of his 1950s glory. Coppola would be vindicated, however, as he crafted the saga of the Corleone family, led by the revered Don Vito Corleone (Brando).
The film follows the final days of Vito’s reign, and the ascension of his son Michael (Al Pacino), a former soldier initially reluctant to enter the family business. An engrossing metaphor for American capitalism, watching the film on the big screen emphasises the majesty of Coppola’s work.
From the infamous opening scene, where Vito grants favours on his daughter’s wedding day, the nerve-shredding moment where Michael commits murder in a restaurant, stiffly following the advice given by family associate Clemenza (Richard S. Castellano). The latter scene in particular is a symphony of filmmaking, where visual and sound combine to tell a marvellous story. As for great performances, take your pick.
Brando became a cinema icon thanks to Don Corleone, a role that would trigger a comeback for the actor. With a muffled voice and graceful demeanour, he would become the blueprint for all mafia movies to this day.
Decades before his “Hoo-Haa” scenery chewing, Pacino’s performance is among his most subtle, showing someone corrupted by both power and responsibility. Providing the fire to his ice is James Caan as Sonny, the hot-tempered brother who would be Don if it weren’t for his compulsive nature.
Despite only being her second feature role, Diane Keaton would set the standard for a glittering career to come as Kay, Michael’s fiancé who would represent his last hope for salvation The film would be bettered by its sequel, but The Godfather remains an absolute pleasure to witness on the big screen.
Filled with great scenes and unforgettable characters, this is a family reunion you won’t want to refuse.