Academy award winner, third on the list of the American Film Institute’s list of America’s 100 greatest movies (a controversial list, at best), and first in popularity with voters at the Internet Movie Data Base, The Godfather is nothing less than a cinematic phenomenon. It is a rare occasion, indeed, when public, critical, and intellectual tastes can agree with such unanimity.
A generation after its initial release, Francis Ford Coppola’s work does not seem dated at all; it remains fresh and riveting, a synthesis of popular storytelling and film art. One of the keys to this winning combination is the rooting of the story in a family chronicle. The contrast of domestic family life and relationships with the family business, in a family whose business happens to be crime, provides a constant flow of irony. Even as we observe weddings and baptisms, religious belief and custom, the crimes are plotted, the guns and garrotes are deployed, the struggles for power and turf unfold.
Brando in his prime, along with impossibly young Al Pacino and Robert Duvall, anchor the performances of a cast that could not be better. All of the filmic arts – design, cinematography, editing, music – come together to forge what is, by any measure, one of the great movies of all time.