I don’t feel too embarrassed to admit that this is the first time I have watched The Godfather. I do feel a slight sense of shame when I confess that the only reason I decided to sit down and watch the film is because it appears at the top of the IMDB top250.
I have absolutely nothing against The Godfather; it’s just I’ve never had any desire to watch it. Until now.
PLOT: Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is the head of one of the biggest mafia families in New York. The family is threatened after Don Corleone refuses to venture into the drugs trade. The Corleone family find themselves caught up in a mafia war and it falls to the youngest son Michael (Al Pacino) to ensure that they remain in business. END PLOT
The Godfather opens with a cheery family wedding but behind the festivities we see Don Corleone in his office discussing business. The mixture of grandchildren, family dinners, guns and violence makes for intriguing viewing.
The film was less about Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) than I thought it would be with his youngest son Michael (Al Pacino) being the main character. It was fascinating watching his character change from the idyllic young war hero into the head of the family business. This was a slow process with the timespan of The Godfather covering about ten years.
Pacino is the true star of the film although Marlon Brando is equally memorable. James Caan (Sonny Corleone) and Robert Duvall (Tom Hagan) provide very able support.
There were perhaps too many characters for my tiny brain to cope with as I had to keep stopping to double check who each character was and how they were involved with the Corleone family.
The Godfather is the template for all gangster parodies and as I am of The Simpsons generation I was worried that it would feel like I was watching the birth of several clichés. I was very relieved that this did not turn out to be the case as the characters, the familiar phrases and the iconic scenes worked in the proper context.
The main issue I have with The Godfather is the length – 2hours 55mins. My mind started to wander on quite a few occasions and it was hard to stay focused. The extra length allowed us to delve deeper into the Corleone family dynamic so I appreciate the reasons for the running time, it was just hard to stay fully engaged.
The Godfather is classed as a masterpiece and I have no real arguments to the contrary. I am glad I have finally watched it but I don’t think it is a film that I will ever love. It gets 7/10.