I fear that I will never again be able to watch The Godfather with fresh eyes or a sense of wonder. This is both because I’ve now seen it four times, but, more saliently, every filmed organized crime story since 1972 is inspired by (or a reaction to) The Godfather.
Of course, the movie is so unimpeachably great that I can’t give it anything less than 5 stars. It’s a rare movie of such uncommon depth and filmmaking precision that you’ll find new highlights every time you watch. As a visual work, it’s enveloping both in its familial warmth but it’s oppressive, shadowy interiors via Gordon Willis’s innovative masterclass of cinematography.
I found, this time, the story’s pace to be more ungainly than I recalled. After the iconic wedding scene, the movie takes a while to really pick back up — during that stretch I was convinced I would bump it down my rating down a half star as I felt more obligation than immersion while watching.
Then Michael stands guard for his father at the hospital and begins his spiral and we’re off to the races. (In fact, some of the time jumps are so abrupt that it’s disorienting.)
So, yeah, I have nitpicks, and some beats so heavily referenced and parodied that it’s impossible to take them at face value; they’re cultural DNA.
But The Godfather is also a riveting, nuanced piece of narrative art — so obviously a “masterpiece” that writing out the word feels like a cliche.
- Review Project: 2009 Top 100
Masterpiece: Tour De Good (8/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.