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The Godfather Trilogy, A Look Back September 16, 2008

Posted by vorpalkeith in Movie Review.
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“The higher I go, the crookeder it becomes.”
– Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, in The Godfather Part Three

There used to be a part of me that said I couldn’t really call myself a film student because I had never seen The Godfather Trilogy. That part of me has been appeased now, because over the course of the past month I have watched all three. I’m really a film guy now!

I’m not going to do anything really in depth for these reviews, because really, what more could I say that hasn’t already been said by people who are far smarter than me? I’m just going to jot down some thoughts as they come to me for each of the chapters in the story.

The Godfather Part One – There’s a reason this film is held in such high esteem by so many critics. Don’t get me wrong, I do not think it’s the greatest film of all time . . . I do, however, feel it was very good.

I was a little surprised at first when I realized that the film was set during the 40’s . . . for some reason I thought the story was after that. I don’t know why. But all the same, it was a pleasant surprise. Suggesting that Michael was a war hero made his fall from grace all the more tragic in the end.

I must say that I think my favorite portions of this chapter were when Michael was in hiding in Sicily. There’s just something about that beautiful countryside that is enchanting. His marriage to the local girl, Appolonia, was also a thing of beauty and I really felt for her death and the crystallizing effect it had on Michael’s character.

Bonus points: Marlon Brando . . . you can’t go wrong! Actually, it was a great cast all around.

The Godfather Part Two – The flashing back and forth between the “present” and Vito Corleone’s immigration and rise to power was an interesting device. Tying the story into the Cuban revolution was an interesting choice as well.

I think my favorite parts of this film were the scenes covering Vito’s backstory. Maybe it was the past setting, or maybe it was Robert De Niro’s strong performance, I don’t know. I found myself hoping the present story would hurry up so I could get back to the past.

I thought the final scene of the film was brilliant . . . after Fredo’s death was ordered by Michael flashing back to a moment in the life of their family before everything started to go so wrong just added to the tragedy. These people were happy once, but the choices of their lives ruined that.

The Godfather Part Three – This film was nowhere near as bad as people had led me to believe it was. Maybe I would feel differently if I’d seen it when it had first come out after a long anticipation, but watching it as part of the whole it feels like a fine addition. No, Sofia Coppela is not nearly as annoying as people would have you believe either. I actually liked her work here, so there.

The one thing I really did miss in this film was Robert Duvall. The fact that he’d survived the previous two gave me hopes that he would be back for this one, but no such luck.

It was interesting to loosely (very loosely) tie the storyline into the death of Pope John Paul the First (or in this case, his doppel-ganger as they did not want to use the name of the real Holy Father). It was a bold choice, and normally I don’t like it when films add fuel to conspiracy theories (in this case, that John Paul the First was actually murdered), but for this particular film I think it worked.

You can really feel for Al Pacino in this chapter. He plays Michael as a beaten man, weary for the life he’s chosen and wishing things had gone differently. His on-screen death echoes that of Marlon Brando in the first chapter.

I’ve heard rumors that Coppela has mentioned possibly doing a fourth Godfather film at some point, but I think that would be a mistake. The series feels complete now. There’s really no need to tell more.

So yeah . . . the Godfather, a story that covers all the immigrant experience, family, organized crime, the Cuban revolution, political corruption, Papal corruption, religion, love, and violence. Well worth seeing and I’m an idiot that I didn’t see them earlier.

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Comments»

1. Christian Kocinski - September 16, 2008

Have you watched Apocalypse Now yet? Cause I don’t think I’d consider myself a filmmaker unless I’ve seen that one as well…

2. vorpalkeith - September 16, 2008

Yes, I have.

3. Heath Holland - September 19, 2008

Keith…now you are a man.

And I’m glad you didn’t hate part III. I think, while not as wonderfully executed as part one or two, that it really shines and PERFECTLY captures this man in his autumn years, living with the weight of his lies, his sins, and his regrets.

4. Derek Coward - September 29, 2008

Sofia Coppola was not as irritating as people would lead you to believe, but she was definitely the weak link in this movie.

Also I forget the exact reason why DuVall wasn’t in the movie, but I think it had something to do with the fact that he wanted a bigger part, the story didn’t allow for it, so he decided to not appear in it. I also believe that this was right before his big comeback with The Apostle, so FFC didn’t think that it would be a big deal.

I am surprised that you didn’t mention Andy Garcia. This was the movie that made him a star and a lot of people (myself included) thought that he was the best thing in it.


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