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Why Is The Godfather So Good? (10 Reasons)

Man holding a tablet displaying the godfather movie

 

The Godfather is considered to be one of the greatest films of all time and has been held in high regard since its debut in 1972.

Following the story of an old mafia boss who must pass his empire on to his inexperienced son, director Francis Ford Coppola created a film that would be cherished by movie lovers for 50 years and continues to be celebrated at every milestone.

Few films have managed to have such a massive impact on the film industry and popular culture.

 

Why Is The Godfather So Good? (10 Reasons)

Michael Hainey and Al Pacino speak onstage at The Godfather 50th Anniversary
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival)

 

The Godfather is so good because it is a masterpiece of a film that is held together firmly through a strong cast, world-changing cinematography, and the music that intensifies the strong theme presented in the film.

This film is considered to be the best of Francis Ford Coppola’s work, as well as many members of the cast.

The Godfather has become such an iconic film that nearly everyone knows at least one line or another from the film, including “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse,” “Leave the gun.

Take the cannoli,” and many more.

Coppola’s movie changed how the world saw tough men and the world of organized crime.

 

1. Al Pacino’s Best Film

Al Pacino speaks onstage
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival)

 

Al Pacino’s role as Michael Corleone was the career choice that brought Pacino to the level of fame he has now.

Although he came to love his role in The Godfather, Pacino claims that he didn’t feel like he had a choice when he first landed the role.

When Francis Ford Coppola was reading the novel, he kept imagining Al Pacino as Michael Corleone.

Pacino wasn’t very interested in the story, but he was so early in his career that he couldn’t turn down the role when Coppola offered it to him personally.

During a phone call between Pacino and Coppola, the director used every trick in the book to convince Pacino to take the role.

Coppola explained to the young actor that this movie was going to be massive, and Pacino wouldn’t normally be considered for this big of a project this early in his career.

He even went as far as to promise that The Godfather would be Pacino’s breakout role.

When Al Pacino heard Coppola’s pleas, he thought that Coppola was so outrageous that he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

However, the actor saw the point that Coppola was making and decided to humor him by taking on the role.

While the director’s promises sounded unlikely, Francis Ford Coppola ended up being proven correct.

The role of Michael Corleone was made for Al Pacino and is still considered to be some of the actor’s greatest work to this day.

 

2. The Godfather Changed Cinematography Forever

The director works with a group or with a playback while filming a movie

 

One of the most noticeable differences that make The Godfather stand out from other movies is the cinematography tricks on display, many of which were pioneered particularly for the scenes in Francis Ford Coppola’s film.

The major figureheads from behind the scenes that made The Godfather what it is today are Coppola as director, camera operator Michael Chapman, and legendary cinematographer Gordon Willis.

Willis is nicknamed “the Prince of Darkness” thanks to his ability to find the perfect light in the darkest scenes.

When The Godfather was released, Willis had only made his debut as a cinematographer three years prior with his debut film End of the Road in 1969.

He had only worked on seven movies in total. Willis began to become more experiential with his lighting by the 1971 film Klute.

Unlike other filmmakers who use a variety of tools like traditional key lights or hair lights, Gordon Willis preferred to use a single top light called coffin box lighting.

This consisted of a single-source, soft light that caused people’s faces to look extremely skeletal.

Although cinematographers of the time complained that Willis didn’t have any idea of what he was doing, he was simply looking to give audiences something new, and this new lighting technique is just what the bored public needed.

 

3. Marlon Brando’s Performance As Don Vito Corleone

Marlon Brando as Godfather Don Vito Corleone

 

Marlon Brando’s role as Don Vito Corleone brought the actor out of the streak of career troubles that he had been enduring.

Before landing the role, Brando had been struggling with a Valium addiction and was essentially black-listed from Hollywood.

Paramount Pictures did everything in its power to prevent Brando from appearing in the film because they saw him as “box office poison” and “dead as could be.”

However, the author of The Godfather novel Mario Puzo personally wrote to Brando and begged him to take the role of Corleone.

In an attempt to help Brando get out of the funk he was in, his assistant Alice Marchak began leaving him constant notes about the role and even began name-dropping rival actors who she “believed” were being considered for the role.

What convinced Brando to take the role was hearing that Laurence Olivier was being considered for the role, causing the actor to exclaim, “He can’t play a Mafia don!” despite having previously stated, “I’m not a Mafia godfather. I’m not going to glorify the Mafia.”

In order to fit the character’s physical description of being bulldog-like, Marlon Brando wore dentures that went around his lower teeth with sacs on the side to fill out his cheeks. He also hid his blonde hair with black shoe polish.

 

4. Has Some Of The Best Monologues In Film

Family watching tv

 

The Godfather may be best known for its short quotes, but audience members were moved emotionally by the monologues given in The Godfather.

Nearly all the main characters have their moments to shine and offer a deeper, darker look into the inner workings of their twisted minds.

One of the most haunting monologues from the film comes from Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, who is quickly falling into the same, dark hole as his father.

As Michael sits in his father’s office, viewers watch the exact moment that the villainy and greed overtake young Michael as plots to kill Sollozzo and McClusky.

The camera inches closer to build up more tension as Michael goes deeper into the details of his murderous plans.

This monologue comes as a shock to Michael’s brothers and results in the family laughing at him despite his seriousness because he was always the sweetheart war hero before this moment.

The best monologue of the entire franchise occurs at the very beginning of The Godfather, starting with the famous words, “I believe in America.”

This two-minute soliloquy is one of the most bone-chilling monologues in film history.

 

5. There’s An Entire Trilogy to Enjoy

The Godfather Trilogy [Blu-ray]

The Godfather Trilogy [Blu-ray] 

 

Those who watched The Godfather often crave more of the story surrounding Michael Corleone’s Mafia family, which is why The Godfather Part II came out in 1974, eventually followed by The Godfather Part III in 1990.

The first sequel in the trilogy follows the story of young Vito Corleone as he came to power in New York City during the 1920s while also exploring how Michael Corleone expanded and tightened the power the crime family left behind by his father.

Young Vito was played by Robert De Niro, who spent four months learning to speak Italian with a Sicilian accent by living in Sicily for three months.

Fans may have been excited about this film, but the director behind the original Godfather film was less than excited.

Francis Ford Coppola tried to have someone else like Martin Scorsese direct the film, but the film executives refused and had to offer Coppola additional terms to his contract.

Having nearly been fired by Paramount during the filming of the original movie was most likely why Coppola wasn’t ready to direct another movie for the company.

When The Godfather Part III came out, fans were shocked by the return of the franchise.

This story follows 60-year-old Michael Corleone as he tries to leave the Mafia life, but is forced to stay due to the younger generation of Mafia members.

 

6. Intense Action Scenes Unlike Any Other Film Of The Time

Young smiling couple with popcorn watching movie in cinema

 

The Godfather films are often defined by their action scenes and their brutal portrayal of organized crime, becoming quickly clear how these films have earned their “R” ratings.

Each film has intense, slow-burn scenes that end up exploding with excitement.

One of the best examples of how well action scenes are paced in The Godfather is the baptism murder scene, which flips between the baptism of Connie’s baby and the brutal murders of New York’s most infamous mob bosses.

This scene is meant to show the constant flow of life and death in Michael Corleone’s life.

Although his family’s fortune is able to provide the baptized baby with a luxurious life, it comes at the cost of the lives of those who oppose the family.

A similar theme returns in the popular murder scene from The Godfather Part II in which Vito Corleone murders Don Fanucci.

The build-up as Vito Corleone becomes tired of taking commands from Fanucci and deciding to kill the mob boss himself reveals how Corleone became the monstrous underworld kingpin he is by the time depicted in The Godfather.

No matter who is dying, each death is gruesome and is pulled off with an intense amount of passion.

Because of the graphic murder scenes, this film franchise is best enjoyed by mature audiences who can stomach the gore.

 

7. Considered To Be The Best Mobster Film

Mobsters sitting and smoking a cigar

 

The Godfather is considered to be the greatest mobster movie of all time, with no movie since its release being capable of capturing the same “lightning in a bottle” that the original film offered.

Although the sequel films did an excellent job of following up on the original story, not even they can compare to the masterpiece that was the original film.

When The Godfather was first released in 1972, it was far from being the first movie on the topic of organized crime families.

However, this film became the golden standard for how mafia movies were supposed to feel.

Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather franchise was meant to show off the ritzy, romanticized life of those crime family members who were a part of the 1%.

The Corleone family had enough power to spread across Las Vegas and Cuba, blackmail senators, and live in the fanciest houses in town.

This franchise also popularized the idea of never going against the family’s wishes and creating plots based on those who tried to step out of line, only to be brought back into line by Michael Corleone or put in a casket by one of his men.

 

8. Provides A Unique Look At The American Dream

The American Dream

 

The Godfather is best known for beginning with the phrase, “I believe in America,” and going on to show how the Corleone family found their success as an immigrant family from Italy.

As someone who has only known life in New York City, Michael Corleone has to learn from the experiences of his father who came into the country with nothing.

While there are countless movies about someone coming from another country to make something out of themselves in the United States, few at the time looked at what happened when the desperate immigrants of the 1920s were forced to turn to organized crime for employment or any relief from poverty.

Although The Godfather can be considered a success story by some, it is a haunting look at what greed and desperation can do to a person.

Vito Corleone may have been able to create a comfortable life for his family, but he also trapped his son in a world of darkness and evil.

 

9. Based On A Best-Selling Novel

The Godfather, a Novel

The Godfather, a Novel 

 

The Godfather was based on the best-selling novel and screenplay by Mario Puzo and was praised by the author for how the film represented his story.

Unlike many other novel adaptations, The Godfather has large chunks of dialogue and sequence structure ripped straight from the book.

A majority of the changes made between the novel and the film were small and subtle, with the biggest changes being made to Vito Corleone.

In the book, Corleone is motivated mostly by keeping his crime family’s business afloat and uninterrupted.

The Vito Corleone in The Godfather and The Godfather Part II is motivated by more personal matters, such as the safety of his family and ensuring that good people are treated with the proper respect.

Mario Puzo’s original portrayal of Corleone was cold and often heartless, even in his most personal moments.

It was Francis Ford Coppola who wanted to make Vito Corleone a more sentimental man, rather than the ruthless mob boss he was in the book.

While even Puzo believes that the movie is even better than the book, the movie would have never existed without his novel.

 

10. Music That Plays Into The Movie

Godfather Movie Soundtrack music album on vinyl

 

The music of The Godfather trilogy played a massive role in the intensity of the film, which was composed by Nino Rota.

Rota was the composer behind The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Romeo & Juliet from 1968, and many other Federico Fellini films.

This composer was born into a family of musicians on December 3rd of 1911 in Milan, Lombardy, Italy.

He was the first student of Orefice and Pizzetti, moving to Rome while he was still a child in order to complete his studies.

The best-known piece by Rota from The Godfather is the somber waltz on a solo trumpet that acts as a leitmotif whenever the Corleone family is conducting business.

The scene that is most influenced by the music is the baptism murder scene.

This scene uses a traditional church organ that plays continual choral music with the audio of a baby crying and a priest saying a Latin prayer playing over both the church and murder scenes.

The music shows how the two sides of Michael Corleone’s life are beginning to blend together.


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