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The Godfather -- a massive disappointment

 
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The Third M?n
Studio Exec


Joined: 09 Sep 2003
Posts: 575
Location: Chasing Stef around post-war Vienna

PostPosted: 09.05.2004 9:48 pm    Post subject: The Godfather -- a massive disappointment Reply with quote

The Godfather (1972, Coppola)



Masturbatory, overly familiar, vacuous and filled with pretentiously depicted gobbledygook, The Godfather, often regarded as one of the very greatest films of all time, is, contrary to popular opinion, the definition of awfulness. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1972. Having finished seeing The Godfather for the first time, I couldn?t help but think that, well, the Academy voters would have most likely been high on booze and red wine ? that or Brando threatened to slit their eyelids, tie their hands and feet to a pole and leave them staring upwards at the sun in the middle of the desert for hours.



It is mighty clear that The Godfather is quite comfortable at the number 1 spot in the IMDb; it is also in the fourth position in Sight and Sound?s Critics Top Ten Poll 2002. But it doesn?t deserve it. As it is, I personally found The Godfather to be a crushing disappointment. I turned off the television after the credits had rolled, overwhelmed by the constant stupidity and amateurism of this motion picture. At first I thought I?d love it, given its celebrated reputation in film history. But no; The Godfather is dumb ? and unknowingly so ? dreadful and banal in every sense of the word. I then burst into tears, crying out, ?Oh Coppola, what have you done!? I thought I loved your film, but I was wrong!? Afterwards, I proceeded to watch The Marshmallow Pink Clouds of a September Afternoon, by Annuska Hajnalka (Hungary, 1965).



It pains me to think that people actually eulogize this film to the point of exhaustion, when really, it?s completely unnecessary. This film didn?t change the history of cinema. It didn?t influence any films, as far as I know. But hey, critics and the public alike seem to think so. The thing is that the film is tremendously uninteresting. It doesn?t engage at all ? and the film is nearly three hours long! The Godfather is a frustrating bore, one that slides along, the viewer absolutely detached from both the story and the characters, its artistic merits nowhere to be seen, and, consequently, incapable of being praised. Nino Rota?s score, Mario Puzo?s script and Gordon Willis? cinematography are, for example, amazingly ineffective and appallingly used ? seldom has Coppola wasted so much talent (Dracula being a case apart). But it?s all right, though ? good old Coppola would redeem himself twenty four years later with his outstanding opus Jack, starring Robin Williams. The Godfather also tries to have some memorable moments, such as the ?horse?s head in the bed? sequence ? but everyone knows that it?s blatantly stolen from an episode of The Simpsons. And the restaurant scene is way overrated.



Much has been said about Marlon Brando?s Oscar-winning performance; I, however, would say the one he did in Superman ? heck, even The Island of Dr Moreau ? is his greatest. Why is it that Laurence Olivier didn?t win the Oscar in 1972 for his brilliant performance in Mankiewicz?s Sleuth? All Brando does is mumble inaudible words; his array of emotions is limited and his face has never been stiffer (apparently Orson Welles was considered for the role ? now that would have been magnificent). And to top it all off, his character of Don Vito Corleone is as forgettable as they come, his death scene being utterly conventional. Needless to say, it doesn?t help that he?s surrounded by a bunch of incompetent actors such as Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall ? here they show the audience the meaning of mediocrity, and with surprising ability. Of course, if that was their intention, then I shall consider their work a total success. Overall, the film was really quite bad ? I couldn?t see many facets that I liked, but, for now, I?ll give it a 4/10 because everyone seems to adore it, and I don?t want to look that bad in front of the film geek community (?)*



*Note: This is what a cinematically defunct individual would have said ? or perhaps an elitist of sorts? ?, had he not liked The Godfather, or been a cynical bastard. Me, I loved it. It was for a long time one of those essential classics that I hadn?t yet seen, but when the right time came, I borrowed the DVD box set and gave it a go. To repeat what everyone has been saying about it for more than three decades would be rather pointless, so my thoughts will be brief.



The Godfather is less about style and more about story and characterization. In the wedding sequence ? that is, the first sequence ? the viewer instantly gets in touch with the characters and so begins his knowledge of them. There?s Don Vito Corleone, the godfather, the head of the family, he whom everyone resorts to when in doubt; then there?s Michael Corleone, his son, an individual who at first seems a little unsure of himself but eventually grows to become the head of the family, and a powerful figure in every sense; there?s also Luca Brasi, Sonny, Tom Hagen? The wedding sequence starts the film wonderfully; it sets the tone of the film and immediately gets us to know the characters. And the film ends with another unforgettable sequence; that of a baptism, interlaced with images of numerous killings. Coppola?s use of editing in the film is terrific, and his juxtaposition of Catholic rituals and mob doings is both clever and ironic ("Do you reject Satan?"). The script is one of the film?s biggest assets, the dialogue, settings, twists and turns being rather amazing.



Some say that Marlon Brando is the soul of the film, and I couldn?t agree more. His presence in The Godfather reigns over everyone; his performance is gigantic and nuanced, having been mimicked and referenced in countless titles. But truth be told, Al Pacino is the heart of the film. The Godfather saw the birth of a star, and that star was Al Pacino, in what is arguably his finest performance. If Don Vito is the character who falls in the film, Michael is the one who rises. His character arc is visible, and while not wholly complete, it acts as the film?s foundations. We can see him change as a person. At first, he?s like an outsider and doesn?t want anything to do with the family business. But after his father dies, there?s no other way around it; he becomes head of the family and the killings start all over again. The Godfather is the great film that it is, amongst other things, because it doesn?t just show us the external side of the characters but the internal one, too. It is, according to Vincent Canby from the New York Times "One of the most brutal and moving chronicles of American life ever designed within the limits of popular entertainment."



The conflicts, the problems, the corruption and doubts? The Godfather is essentially a tale of a family yearning for power and money ? a critique on capitalism ? and an exhibition of people?s inability to reach the American Dream. What The Godfather brilliantly does is portray the family in a neuter light. Coppola doesn?t condemn their actions, but he doesn?t glorify them, either. We know that they shouldn?t go round killing people, and yet we can?t help but feel for them all, especially for Michael.



I have no doubt that I will like and admire the film more and more as I watch it again and again. The Godfather is not superficial, it isn?t false. It has its share of profundity and many questions to ask, some of those not being given an answer to. It is intelligent and multi-dimensional, its violence being shocking and powerful, but meaningful after all. The Godfather is basically an example of what cinema was made for; it?s just so terribly dramatic? It proves to be a memorable film, but it?s so epic and large that I can?t quite remember every single scene. The problem is that this isn?t right ? every scene is made to be remembered. The Godfather achieves the right tone between artsy and commercial cinema, hence why both critics and the general public love it so much. It really is a legendary and influential work, and I see no signs of its reputation perishing in the years to come. In the end, we all really feel as though we've been part of something -- not just part of a great story, part of a great film, but part of a family.
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HoRRoRFaN
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Joined: 06 Jul 2004
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PostPosted: 09.05.2004 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damn, you really had me going for a second... But I knew it could not have been serious. Smile Glad you loved the film!
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smarty
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PostPosted: 09.06.2004 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I seriously lost all respect for everything you've ever written on this site for a minute or so until i got to the middle of your post and saw that you were joking. You got me. Nice work.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.11.2004 3:52 am    Post subject: Re: The Godfather -- a massive disappointment Reply with quote

The Third M?n wrote:
But it?s all right, though ? good old Coppola would redeem himself twenty four years later with his outstanding opus Jack, starring Robin Williams.




At this point I saw the ruse.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 09.11.2004 5:37 am    Post subject: Re: The Godfather -- a massive disappointment Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
At this point I saw the ruse.


Jack still kicks ass. Laughing
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The Third M?n
Studio Exec


Joined: 09 Sep 2003
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Location: Chasing Stef around post-war Vienna

PostPosted: 09.11.2004 12:01 pm    Post subject: Re: The Godfather -- a massive disappointment Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
the night watchman wrote:
At this point I saw the ruse.


Jack still kicks ass. Laughing




I actually quite like it. Then again I saw it last when i was about, oh, thirteen years old.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 09.11.2004 3:48 pm    Post subject: Re: The Godfather -- a massive disappointment Reply with quote

The Third M?n wrote:
I actually quite like it. Then again I saw it last when i was about, oh, thirteen years old.


For me, it was around seven.
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