Hey guys, it’s Kernook here, coming at you with another movie review. This time we’re diving into crime syndicates and mob bosses with 1972’s The Godfather. If you aren’t expecting integral violence, drug use, dark dramatic overtones that come along with turf wars, and honor among the underbelly, then this probably isn’t the movie for you.
At that point, the review won’t be either. If you do like this content, be sure to subscribe or follow the blog for more content like this. You can support these reviews and help to choose the content over on Patreon as well. Your contributions keep this blog free from advertising.
Don Corleone is no Fat Tony, and this movie is not even close to being a satire. That being said, it’s not about a bunch of young hooligans either, as is the case with West Side Story… it’s not about twisted moral high-ground, as is the case with Road to Perdition, either.
No, this is a film about true honor among thieves and the criminal world that seeks to exploit the virtues of these deeply embroiled families. Being a professional mobster isn’t for the faint of heart, and The Godfather operates on this less than idealized pretense.
At the heart and soul of this franchise, there’s a sad truth to tell. It isn’t all unicorns and rainbows when you’re leading the mob. Rather, oftentimes Don Corleone finds it to be a merciless position to be in. He understands that position, acting with gravitas where it suits him to do so. When it offers him no value, he eases up. That’s the rarity, though.
The mundane grind of pompous gatherings and a plethora of poor diets demarcate a rather sour view of what “good business” is, at least for families like these. For every cigar lit, and a beer taken among the mutterings of those that sit at the table, choices need to be made.
This is all punctuated by orders doled out with a deep consideration to the ramifications. Tragic bursts of violence leave a soul-rending loss in its wake. The ethos of The Godfather spits upon the romanticized glamour of the traditional gangsters of its time… there is no glamour here. Only smoke, sin, and the reflections of those lost amidst countless failings.
Then as if all of that wasn’t enough, the movie unceremoniously plops fierce loyalties and deadly ambition in front of us as the reason why these characters can become so thirsty for their power. In Brooklyn, vengeance takes upon its own soured appeal. Mercy is too expensive to purchase, and Don Corleone understands that all too well.
The pomp and circumstance of the gangster lifestyle permeates even casual encounters. Even simple justifications become twisted around and contorted to no end, at least when it comes to this movie.
Based upon the foundations of Mario Puzo’s novel written in 1969, the film sticks true to the visions and themes presented in original work. He also wrote the screenplay, so you’d never be able to argue that his artistic vision was hampered in the slightest.
One might even say that the book is required reading. Honestly, that’s about the only way to fully enjoy this complex universe. The book is such a landmark novel in its own right. I needed to mention it here for that reason alone.
In spite of the name, The Godfather is not the central character in the movie. That honor falls to Michael, the youngest son. He’s something of an upstart that challenges traditional views of how things should be run. If you have read the novel, you might be surprised to find Michael at the front and center of the movie’s narrative.
If you were expecting Don Corleone to take center stage, I wouldn’t fault you. That being said, it was a smart idea to use the youngest son. This separate looking glass gives us a very different way to see things. Michael provides a far more distinguished viewpoint than Don Corleone ever could. It all comes down to a less slanted, more earnest outlook.
The trials and tribulations of the characters is what makes this movie stand out. Don Corleone’s family are far from perfect, but they’re also down-to-earth characters. Family scuffles at the dinner table, and the bonds they keep at least make them relatable…. but is that enough?
Well, that’s an interesting question, really. The whole aim of The Godfather was to re-contextualize the typical mobsters that people typically saw in the media at the time. Rather than glorify them, The Godfather lambastes them. As a result, family dysfunction and dynastic problems stand at the core of this movie.
Interestingly enough, these concepts were new and interesting at the time. However, these days those selfsame tropes are now become commonplace. They’re the expected staple. That’s the reason why you should watch The Godfather.
It didn’t just re-contextualize the baseline of the mobster in popular media, nowadays it is the baseline of the mobster. What was once subversive became the norm… it isn’t hard to see why.
There’s something earnest in the layers of deceit found openly on display. This is a family of criminals and they make no bones about that. So little of the movie glorifies the concept of the gangster lifestyle. The masses simply loved it so much that it became a glorified concept.
Don Corleone is now the rubric to a successful mobster, if you want to think of it that way.
Although the movie is about three hours long, it’s not a slog. Far from it. There is something heartfelt in dynasty and legacy. As that time passes by and Don Corleone slowly relinquishes his authority over the family, there’s a sentimentality buried beneath it all.
I would say that this movie and its corresponding book are pieces of media that shouldn’t be passed up. If you like crime, drama, fifthly underbellies and morbid justifications for immoral acts, look no further than The Godfather.
Failing that, you should watch it because the film is such a pervasive touchstone for all kinds of media these days. Its influence spans far and wide, from satire to comedy, and drama and to thrillers.
The film is an important part of movie history, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. The Godfather is just too important to ignore.