The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy from a screenplay by Mario Puzo and Coppola. The film is based on a crime novel written by Mario Puzo en 1969.
It relates the story of a fictious mafia family based in New York City which is headed by Don Vito Corleon, who became synonymous with the Italian Mafia as he is an immigrant from Sicily. The story spans the years 1945-55 and focuses on the transformation of Michael Corleone who thereafter becomes a ruthless Mafia boss.
The film starts on the wedding day of Vito’s Corlene daughter. Vito is the Don or in others words the “boss” of the Corleone family. He is a native Sicilian married to Carmela with whom he has four children : Sonny, Fredo, Michael and Connie. Vito is in his office and hears a request from one of his godson : Jonny Fontane, a popular singer, who pleads for help in getting the main role in a movie because he is refused by the director Jack Woltz. The Don reassures Johnny by saying that he will “make an offer he couldn’t refuse”.
During the wedding, Michael explains to his girlfriend Kay the violent way his father settles business with his adversary as she ignores all the practices and rules proper to the mafia argot. He also adds that those methods are not his.
Later, Tom Hagen (adopted by Vito Coreleone) is sent to Hollywood in order to persuade the film director to appoint John in the film. Tom is welcomed in the director’s property. The latter learns that in fact Tom is working for Don Vito Coreleone. The guest is then shown the racehorse that Jack Woltz just purchased and which prize raises to 600 000$. But during the dinner, he declares that he will not hire Jonny Fontanein his film. The morning after, he wakes up with the bloody head of his horse in the bed ; he is horrified.
Virgil, the “Turk” Sollozzo, who controls heroine’s traffic in New York asks Don Corleone a legal and political protection and one milion dollars in order to develop his business. But the latter declines the offer. Then, Luca Brasi, a loyal man of the Corleone is sent to get some information about the Tattaglia family but he is murdered at the venue.
While buying some oranges, Vito is injured by a revolver, but he survives. Soon after, a packet containing a dead fish is delivered to the Corleone ; it is a message used to say that Luca Brasi “sleeps with fishes”. Michael decides to start being part of the family business and so kills Sollozzo and MacCluskey, the police captain, in order to save his father’s life who is at stake. For the first time Michael gets involved in the criminal environment.
Micheal is then sent to Sicily where he meets Apollonia, who will become his wife. But, the latter is killed by a car bomb intended for Michael.
Instead of perpetuating this cycle of vengeance, Vito Corleone is in search of peace with the other families so that his son can return home. Once, Michael comes back home he marries with Kay and tells her that the family business will become completely legal.
From now on, Michael is the head of the ‘family’ and his father becomes his most faithful adviser. Vito dies in his garden of a heart attack while he is playing with his grandson. Soon after, Michael murders the other head of families because they want to take revenge.
Kay witnesses a confrontation of Connie and requests explanations from Michael, but he answers : ” Do not question me about my business”. But due to her insistence, he accepts a question but saying “only this time” to finally deny any implication in Carlo’s death. She seems relieved by Michael’s denial. However, she starts being suspicious when she observes people showing their respects to Michael, kissing his hand and addressing him as they used to address Vito Corleone.
Awards and Nominations
The Godfather is widely regarded as one of the greatest film in world cinema and as one of the most influential gangster film. The film remains the box office leader for 1972.
The same year, it won three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor (referring to Marlon Brando) and Best Adapted Screenplay for Puzo and Coppola. Among those three Oscars, the film got several nominations such as the Best Actor in a Supporting Role (James Caan, Al Pacino..) or the Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium.
The success spawned two sequels: The Godfather Part II in 1974, and The Godfather Part III in 1990.
Why I liked it
First of all, I liked the film because of its genre. Then, what really struck me in this film is that even though it is a mafia “family”, Don Corleone refuses being part of the drug traffiking because he is worried about his image. So, even if he is part of the prostitution and underground gambling. Indeed, he remains on businesses which are considered “less dirty”.