The Godfather: The Epic Saga of the Corleone Family
The Godfather: A Masterpiece of Crime Cinema
The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, who co-wrote the screenplay with Mario Puzo, based on Puzo's best-selling 1969 novel of the same title. The film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, and Diane Keaton. It is the first installment in The Godfather trilogy, chronicling the Corleone family under patriarch Vito Corleone (Brando) from 1945 to 1955. It focuses on the transformation of his youngest son, Michael Corleone (Pacino), from reluctant family outsider to ruthless mafia boss.
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The Godfather is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made, as well as a landmark of the gangster genre. It has received universal acclaim from critics and audiences, who praised its performancesparticularly those of Brando and Pacinodirection, screenplay, cinematography, editing, score, and portrayal of the mafia. It was the highest-grossing film of 1972, and was for a time the highest-grossing film ever made. It won three Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando), and Best Adapted Screenplay (for Puzo and Coppola), and was nominated for seven others. It has also been selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
In this article, we will explore what makes The Godfather such a masterpiece of crime cinema. We will look at the story, the making, and the impact of this iconic film.
What is The Godfather about?
The Godfather is a film that tells the story of the Corleone family, a powerful and respected crime dynasty in New York City. The film spans from 1945 to 1955, covering a crucial period in American history that saw the rise of organized crime, the post-war economic boom, the immigration wave from Europe, and the beginning of the Cold War.
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The film begins with the wedding of Don Vito Corleone's daughter Connie (Talia Shire) to Carlo Rizzi (Gianni Russo). Don Vito (Marlon Brando) is the head of the Corleone family, one of the five families that control the underworld in New York. He is a benevolent and respected leader who values loyalty, honor, and tradition. He is also a loving father to his four children: Sonny (James Caan), the hot-headed eldest son who acts as his underboss; Fredo (John Cazale), the weak and insecure middle son who runs the family's casino in Las Vegas; Michael (Al Pacino), the youngest son who is a decorated war hero and wants nothing to do with the family business; and Connie (Talia Shire), the only daughter who is spoiled and naive.
Don Vito's life is threatened when he refuses to join forces with Virgil Sollozzo (Al Lettieri), a drug lord who wants to sell heroin in New York with the help of Don Vito's rival, Philip Tattaglia (Victor Rendina). Sollozzo attempts to assassinate Don Vito but fails. Michael saves his father's life by killing Sollozzo and his bodyguard, Captain McCluskey (Sterling Hayden), a corrupt police officer. Michael then flees to Sicily to hide from the law and the other families who declare war on the Corleones.While Michael is in Sicily, he falls in love with and marries a local girl named Apollonia (Simonetta Stefanelli). However, his happiness is short-lived when Apollonia is killed by a car bomb intended for Michael. Meanwhile, in New York, Sonny is also killed by the rival families in a brutal ambush. Don Vito, who has recovered from his wounds, decides to end the war and make peace with the other families. He also arranges for Michael's return to America.
Michael reunites with his old girlfriend, Kay Adams (Diane Keaton), and marries her. He also takes over the family business from his father, who is now semi-retired. Michael proves to be a ruthless and cunning leader who consolidates his power and expands his empire. He also seeks revenge for the deaths of his father and brother by orchestrating the murders of all his enemies, including Carlo, who betrayed Sonny; Tessio (Abe Vigoda), who betrayed Michael; Barzini (Richard Conte), who orchestrated the war; and Moe Greene (Alex Rocco), who insulted Fredo. He also orders the assassination of his brother-in-law, Carlo Rizzi (Gianni Russo), who betrayed Sonny.
The film ends with Michael lying to Kay about his involvement in Carlo's death, and becoming the new Don Corleone. The final shot shows him being greeted by his loyal capos as "Don Michael Corleone", while Kay looks on with horror and disbelief.
The Story of The Godfather
The plot summary
The plot summary of The Godfather is as follows:
The film begins with the wedding of Don Vito Corleone's daughter Connie to Carlo Rizzi.
Don Vito refuses to join forces with drug lord Virgil Sollozzo, who is backed by rival family Tattaglia.
Sollozzo attempts to assassinate Don Vito but fails. Michael saves his father's life by killing Sollozzo and his bodyguard, Captain McCluskey.
Michael flees to Sicily to hide from the law and the other families who declare war on the Corleones.
While in Sicily, Michael falls in love with and marries Apollonia, who is killed by a car bomb intended for him.
In New York, Sonny is killed by the rival families in an ambush. Don Vito makes peace with the other families and arranges for Michael's return.
Michael reunites with Kay and marries her. He takes over the family business from his father.
Michael consolidates his power and expands his empire. He also avenges his father and brother by killing all his enemies.
The film ends with Michael becoming the new Don Corleone and lying to Kay about his involvement in Carlo's death.
The main characters
The main characters of The Godfather are:
Vito CorleoneMarlon BrandoThe aging patriarch of the Corleone family and a respected mafia boss.
Michael CorleoneAl PacinoThe youngest son of Vito and his successor as the head of the family.
Sonny CorleoneJames CaanThe eldest son of Vito and his underboss. He is impulsive and violent.
Fredo CorleoneJohn CazaleThe middle son of Vito and his casino manager. He is weak and insecure.
Connie CorleoneTalia ShireThe only daughter of Vito and the wife of Carlo Rizzi. She is spoiled and naive.
Kay AdamsDiane KeatonThe girlfriend and later wife of Michael. She is an American WASP who is unaware of Michael's true nature.
Tom HagenRobert DuvallThe adopted son of Vito and his consigliere. He is a lawyer and a peacemaker.
ClemenzaRichard CastellanoA caporegime in the Corleone family and a loyal friend of Vito.
Tessio Abe VigodaA caporegime in the Corleone family and a friend of Vito. He betrays Michael and is killed.
Carlo RizziGianni RussoThe husband of Connie and a low-level associate of the Corleone family. He abuses Connie and is involved in Sonny's murder. He is killed by Michael.
Virgil SollozzoAl LettieriA drug lord who wants to sell heroin in New York with the help of Tattaglia. He tries to kill Vito and is killed by Michael.