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The Godfather Movie Review

Jay Bhati ’24

While quarantine seems so long ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. I spent most of my quarantine watching movies, as I had just finished high school and did not have too much work to do. It was quite a relaxed break before starting college. I like to relax by watching movies. I had the benefit of watching Francis Coppola’s The Godfather. Out of all the movies in the world that I have watched, The Godfather was one of the absolute best. From the cinematography to the actors, the movie does not miss. At all.

It was a cultural shock when it came out and it is still respected as one of the greatest films to this day. The movie had serious cultural affects when it aired in March of 1972. The movie aired when the Italian Mob was ruling over New York. As the movie came out, it glorified the mob. It also highlighted the Italian culture from family dinner scenes to extravagant weddings with lively authentic music. When people talk about the 70’s, there was a distinct feel that was placed on Italians at the time. A lot of Italians were not affiliated with the mob, but this movie did not help the stereotype. The movie was special compared to other movies that depicted Italian culture as there was a focus on hiring Italian actors to portray Italians in the movie. This was a point of emphasis leading up to the creation of the movie in Hollywood.

The actors are some of the best to ever hit the big screen. To name a few, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Marlon Brando all came together to give the movie series such an amazing feel. The movie has a very serious tone; the actors embodied their role, demonstrating the dangers that accompany being in the mafia and facing death at every turn. This is accomplished through the dialogue, along with the music and recurring imagery seen throughout the entire film.

The music, and scenery of the movie is what really puts The Godfather cinematic trilogy over the top. To start, the first scene depicts the perils of an immigrant father who attempted to assimilate to the American culture but is now regretting his decision and is in need of help from Marlon Brando, who plays the Godfather. It is a very dark and serious scene. The camera angle lets the audience observe the scene from the perspective of the godfather, which allows  them to understand the significance of what it means to be the title character . It sets the tone for the entire movie so well and it is one of the best opening scenes in all of cinema. The second scene is that of a wedding where Italian music and songs are airing with lively dancing. It gives the audience a glimpse into the sense of family that lies at the core of Italian tradition. The godfather also owns his own chime, which is one that is historically recognized. I get goosebumps when I hear it play as the title rolls onto the screen.

The dialogue was also something that resonated with me as a good amount is spoken in Italian. The first time I watched the movie, I missed key plot points because I do not speak Italian and subtitles were not an option. I appreciated how the Italian language was used as a way for actors of the movie to communicate with each other. For example, Michael Corleone talks with another member of the mafia, Virigl Sollozzo, in fluent Italian as to keep the American police captain unaware of what is being said. As being someone who speaks Hindi, I can think of my own experience and speak to the fact that this is a common way to communicate without letting everyone know what you are attempting to say. There’s a sense of belonging to a family, and a comfort in one’s shared identity by being able to converse in your mother tongue.

While the shots are very simple, they were very intentional and perfectly executed. From the camera angles to the lighting, each scene has its own mood which is evident by the actor’s demeanor and their dialogue. The shots are not fluid but rather stationary; as for the camera angles, we see the actors doing more of the movement than the camera. I never pick up on things like this but the movie itself does such a good job of highlighting things like camera angles and lighting to really put it over the top. The scenery also shows the Italian countryside. There is a stark difference between the shots of New York and those of Italy as there is a focus on the light blue skies of the countryside compared to the dark grey tone of the skyscrapers in New York. I appreciated the effort of showing both America and Italy as so many immigrants watched this movie having experienced both worlds. My own father was from India but I was able to relate to the immigrant aspect of this movie.

I would talk more about the story but even after watching it numerous times, I still figure out more and more about the plot that I missed before. While it is based on a violent topic, the violence is very subtle and only when necessary.  Interactions between the characters and strategy were more of the focal points that captivated audiences. This movie led way to some of the greats not only on the big screen but also through television shows such as The Sopranos.

Overall I have never witnessed a better movie and I do not think I will ever witness a better movie. 10/10 without a doubt.