In the recent flurry of re-issues, The Godfather can hold its head high in the knowledge that it is one of the most violently beautiful films ever to grace our screens.The performances, the lighting, the music and the pacing all work together to embrace us into the Corleone family. As the epic of this Italian-American family unfolds we witness the complexity of protocols that enable the Corleones to rule their families with equal amounts of fear and respect.
While this film made Brando's cotton-filled jowls larger than life as Don Vito Corleone, the Godfather of the film, Coppola actually focuses on the Don's youngest son, Michael (played by a youthful Pacino). The film charts Michael's eventual about-face from an all-American war hero to a man whose look can strike fear into the toughest of gangsters. His journey from legitimate citizen to the most powerful Mafioso takes us through a series of deadly stops, each killing performed in such ceremonious fashion that they are perversely elevated to the state of religious ritual. The acting is inspired: Brando's mannered Don, Pacino's brooding Michael, Caan's short-fused Sonny and Keaton's naively irksome wife. Too much to tell, too little space.At just under three hours the film feels too short. Its hypnotic power reminiscent of how cinema can sometimes be like nectar from the gods. It's an offer you can't refuse. ---Paul Garcia