Adapted from Mario Puzo’s best-selling gangster novel, The Godfather has become a classic in its own right. Its powerful characterization and creative cinematography set it apart from other films of its time. The film begins with a man named Bonasera coming to Don Vito Corleone asking for help. He has had his daughter beat by a group of men and wants justice.

The Story

In a cinematic landscape where special effects have all but eclipsed character and story, The Godfather still stands out. The 1972 film narrates the transition of power in a Mafia family led by Michael Corleone. The Godfather combines family drama, Shakespearean tragedy, and Italian culture with gangster themes. It is a testament to the cast, including Marlon Brando and James Caan, that this film has remained a beloved staple.

The yesmovies film has become so ingrained in American culture that even non-mafia fans are familiar with its themes. For example, Nora Ephron’s book You’ve Got Mail uses a baptism sequence in the style of The Godfather to show how corporate capitalism destroys sentimental notions of mom-and-pop businesses and Old World ties.

Coppola reshaped how mafia movies were told after The Godfather’s success. However, not everyone was on board. Some critics panned the movie for its depictions of bloody violence and large sexual organs. Nevertheless, the film’s legendary pitch meeting and eventual blockbuster release saved Paramount from bankruptcy.

The Voice of Marlon Brando

In an era when special effects often trump character and narrative, The Godfather stands as a testament to the power of classic storytelling. The story of a family business, the film is as epic in scope as it is gripping.

Marlon Brando is in full command as Don Vito Corleone, the man known for making “offers you can’t refuse.” From his cotton wool jowl padding to his unmistakable adenoidal wheeze, the Don exudes authority with every breath.

Adapting the novel with his co-writer Mario Puzo, director Francis Ford Coppola assembles an all-star cast that includes Diane Keaton as the loving Kay Adams, Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen and a pre-Rocky Talia Shire as his daughter Connie. The ensemble brings a shrewd look at American values to the gangster genre, while evoking a European art sensibility. The result is the best gangster movie ever made.

The Revenge of Michael Corleone

As gangster movies go, the original Godfather is truly unique. Despite the success of its sequels, no other film in the genre captures the same sense of power and grandeur. The cast alone, led by Marlon Brando, James Caan, and Al Pacino, is enough to elevate the movie to a new level of legend.

The story itself is also compelling, with Michael’s efforts to gain control of the International Immobiliare business forming the centerpiece of the film. As he prepares to make the family legitimate, a baptism for his sister’s child is intercut with nightmarish vignettes of the violent retributions carried out by his rivals.

Coppola instills classicism into the visuals as well, shooting with sfumato shadows and amber tones. His unified approach makes the Corleones look like a real family and players in a grand drama. This visual agenda further reinforces the narrative’s thematic underpinnings about the Mafia as a capitalist enterprise. It’s no wonder that the film became a cultural touchstone.

The Cinematography

As gangster movies go, The Godfather is a rare beast. It deviates from the classic template and was conceived as an artistic statement of its own. The movie oozes with thematic and textual layers that make it a fascinating study. Co-writer and director Francis Ford Coppola and his cast (including down-on-his-luck Brando and relative unknown Al Pacino) treated the subject of filial piety and family power in a way that was uncommon at the time.

The film has become a defining myth of our time, and its resonant themes of power struggles, brutal violence, and capitalist greed have seeped into our culture. The film’s success has made it difficult to pin down the exact reasons why it was such a watershed moment in cinema history. Many people have credited Nino Rota’s music, or the performances of Robert Duvall and especially Brando. But perhaps the most crucial aspect of The Godfather is its visual agenda, a rich tapestry of sfumato shadows and amber tones.