Dated 2019-04-23
16
Sep
2017

Coppola’s Stroke of Genius

When he created The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola, in one act of cinematic brilliance, transcended all benchmarks. He made a magnum opus, a catharsis of vulnerability, a celebration of unpoetic justice. It is perhaps only his genius that he could pull off another classic, Apocalypse Now – a war movie that again set a new touchstone. But then men like Coppola are few. I can only think of two other movies that compete with The Godfather: GoodFellas and Once Upon a time in America.  You decide the order.

 

What sets Godfather apart, is its exquisite plot – three generations intertwined around the great American dream envisioned by many Italian expats in the early 20th century. Some call it the best ever family movie, I wouldn’t disagree. It glorifies patriarchy, yet never fails to expose the subtle beauty of its women. I still maintain Michael Corleone’s Sicilian wife is the prettiest actress in a ten-minute role.

The Godfather tells us that a mobster’s life isn’t all roses and luxury. It is also about violence and a constant tension and threat from rival families. As a mobster, you can’t let your guard down, especially when you’re the much envied Vito Carleone whose power, contacts and charisma is a sty in many an eye.

 

It is one movie where you do not find any discernible weakness. That itself speaks. Direction is top-notch, and not for a moment do you feel Coppola is faltering or losing the plot. Like a true captain of the ship, he is in complete control. Editing is crisp, and the haunting background score captures every essence of hard core professional criminals who live, laugh and love their families.

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Many of its lines have achieved the status of sacred scriptures. We use them in every day pillow talks. “I am going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” Cinematography is flawless. The depiction and the way the director takes his audience into his story remains unparalleled to the day. In one of its more celebrated and widely talked scenes ‘Khartoum’, the director introduces the brutality of Don Vito Corleone in a way that stays forever in a viewer’s mind. He may be a family man, he may have his moral code, but he is an uncouth don after all. The scene never fails to send a chill down your spine.

Godfather has an ensemble cast that is tough to match. Marlon Brando is just the ideal Godfather. After his riveting performance as a torment soul in ‘On The Water Front’, this is Brando’s best. I cannot imagine anyone in his place. And the fact that Coppola kept fighting for his inclusion relentlessly with the Broadway bigshots underscores how well the director knew his craft and what he wanted. Al Pacino as the young war hero is charming. He acts through his eyes – those powerful, meaningful eyes. Jimmy Caan, Robert Duval, Diane Keaton and every other actor gives you the impression that only they could have performed that role. So brilliant was Coppola.

 

A cine-goer’s journey will remain incomplete if he hasn’t seen the masterpiece multiple times.

 

 

What sets Godfather apart, is its exquisite plot – three generations intertwined around the great American dream envisioned by many Italian expats in the early 20th century. Some call it the best ever family movie, I wouldn’t disagree. It glorifies patriarchy, yet never fails to expose the subtle beauty of its women. I still maintain Michael Corleone’s Sicilian wife is the prettiest actress in a ten-minute role.

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