The gangster genre is traditionally highly popular in the US. However, the crime film The Godfather (1972) is generally recognized as the most influential and the one of the best movies ever made. The current paper analyzes this film from various perspectives; it examines its plot and characters, presents the influence of the movie release, and outlines the process of the film production.
The plot of The Godfather is primarily based on the crime novel by Mario Puzo. The film presents the relationships within a criminal family. In particular, Michael Corleone was able to become a Mafia boss although he was a family outsider for a long time. In the beginning of the movie, Michael Corleone introduces his girlfriend to his family. In this context, all main characters of the story are presented to the viewer. The drug baron asks the Don (Vito Corleone) to make some investments in several drug trades. However, the Don does not approve such a proposal and decides to spy for these dealers. It leads to serious conflicts among the Five Families that make various illegal attempts to establish their control over the situation.
Then, an assassination attempt takes place, and the Don’s eldest son Sonny has become the family leader. After some time, Sonny is assassinated and killed. Vito is significantly disappointed by this fact and even decides to change his strategy. He promises other bosses that he will not interfere in their drug business. After this agreement, Michael returns home and becomes strongly involved in the family affairs.
Finally, Michael has become the family leader; moreover, he promises to make the entire business completely legitimate within the next five years. When Vito dies in the garden, Michael becomes a new Don Corleone. He makes several orders regarding murdering other New York bosses and establishes himself as a local leader.
The main characters of the movie are Vito and Michael Corleone. Marlon Brando and Al Pacino have greatly contributed to the success of the film enabling the viewers to understand the internal world of the crime family. Although the film is comparatively long (its duration is almost 3 hours), it is enjoyable for the viewers as the entire plot is organized in a very interesting way. All events are not merely presented but interpreted from the family’s perspective. In this way, it is possible to understand the relationships between various characters as well as the values of their family in general.
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It seems that reading the book may help to understand all aspects even better, because the film selected only the most relevant moments. The psychological pressure experienced by various characters is clearly observed. At the same time, they have to make choices and take responsibility. Michael has understood that he should take responsibility and help his family. He has decided to act in accordance with the family’s values but make their business legal in the near future. It may help to balance the needs for reforms with the traditional Corleone’s worldview. The film director does not impose his opinions on the viewers, and everyone is free to make his/her own conclusions based on one’s personal experience and perception. In general, the movie is able to integrate all elements of criminal life and describe the mixture of legal and illegal behavior, moral and immoral choices, love and hatred, etc.
The film’s influence on the entire industry and several generations is significant. The Godfather is considered as one of the most successful US films of all times. It was chosen for preservation in the US National Film Registry in 1990. The movie won three Oscars in 1972; moreover, Brando received the Academy Award as the best actor. The film is the best work in the gangster genre and is an inspiration for numerous film directors.
The process of film making was comparatively complex. Various directors applied for the role of the director of the movie, but no agreement was reached. Moreover, more than ten directors refused to work on The Godfather. Finally, Coppola was chosen as a director and began to work on the film. In the beginning, Paramount did not believe in success of the project. However, taking into account the success of the book, they decided to increase the budget to around $6 million. Coppola was criticized for his style and was almost fired, but Brando insisted on working only with Coppola. The novel was adapted to the movie by the author Mario Puzo.
All the previous movies of the same genre presented all scenes from the perspective of the outside observer while The Godfather shows the internal world of the Mafia. The most expensive scene of the film is Sonny’s death that has required much time, four cameras, and more than $100,000 of direct expenses. The Godfather became the most commercially successful film of 1972. The film was extremely successful both in the US and abroad generating more than $100 million in each of these markets. Taking into account inflation rates, The Godfather is among top 25 commercially most successful films of all times. Almost all critics and review aggregators consider this film as one of the best movies of all times. The great influence may be primarily attributed to the director’s ability of integration of psychological elements in the film. The general perception of the Mafia is largely based on its presentation in The Godfather.