The GODFATHER: Greatest Classic of All Time

“I believe in America…!!!!!”

50 years ago a movie started with this dialogue and went on to become one of the greatest movies ever made. I am talking about THE GODFATHER. The gangster drama spanning three instalments is taught in film schools and is considered a benchmark for aspiring filmmakers. Interestingly, the movie is an adaptation of a novel by the same name. The movie features some of the all-time greatest actors and it has won 9 Oscars and 29 Nominations and many other awards. So, what is that very special in the film that it went on to become such a huge masterpiece…well, let’s find out.

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The Plot

The movie starts off in the world of Don Vito Corleone. During his childhood, his whole family was killed by a prominent gangster. Somehow, his mother was able to make his escape, by sacrificing herself. The small Vito somehow made his living through petty jobs. He grew up, and made a family, though. But, he hadn’t forgotten his past and he entered the world of gangsters in very slow and careful steps. Ultimately, he rises up the ranks and kills the man who destroyed his family. He also kills his rivals and establishes a huge empire. (I mentioned it earlier, but in the movie series, Vito’s early life is shown only in the 2nd part through flashbacks).

The Godfather Returns To Movie Theaters, See The New Trailer

Pic: Don Vito Corleone played by Marlon Brando

At the current time, Vito Corleone is old and has four sons and a daughter. Out of his sons, two are getting ready to carry forward the empire of the ageing father. But, one of them; Michael has never been interested in the Mafia business. He has served in the army and lives a completely cut-off life with his girlfriend from the rest of his family. The turning point comes in the movie when Don Vito is attacked by his rival don. While Vito was bedridden, one of the sons is also killed by the rivals. The situation pans out such, that an unwanted Michael had to take up the reigns of his father. initially, he enters just for the sake of the safety of his family, but once he enters, he indulges deep, deep and deeper into this world. He finishes all his rivals, expands the empire further and even kills his own brother who was incompetent and suspicious. With time, he even loses his emotions and softness and completely scrubs off his earlier promise to his wife that he would never enter this dark world. As a result, he even gets distanced from his wife and kids.

Godfather role was an offer Al Pacino could refuse | The Godfather | The  Guardian

Pic: Michael Corleone played by Al Pacino

In the final part, the aged Michael has got soft and somehow wants to live in peace. His children have grown up and he wants them to be settled. But, some old rivalries emerge back in a new form and he has to get ready for them. Eventually, he gets better off his rivals along with his team, but as a major setback, one of the bullets intended towards Michael hits his daughter…and she dies. The man who was perhaps the strongest amongst all was crying helplessly with his dead daughter in his arms. After some time, he ages further and dies. Despite having all the power in the world, he died the most NORMAL death with NO ONE by his side.

“Revenge is a dish best served Cold”

From Novel to Movie Screenplay

‘The Godfather’ was a novel written by Mario Puzo and got published in 1969. Before this novel, Mario was having a struggling life with his wife and five children. His deep debt and the bad habit of Gambling were further acting as roadblocks for him. His two earlier novels though received a good response, but the sales number was way too average. So, Mario was under huge pressure to deliver something big this time. He himself recalls putting it “It was really time to grow up and sell out.” Interestingly, he was working with a magazine management company at that time. So, there he was getting to know many things about the dark world of blood, crime and sex. After this, Mario himself did a deep study and research into the lives of the underworld and crime syndicates. As a result of all these efforts, hard work was seen in the form of a Runaway Bestseller. Interestingly, after many years of the novel’s success, Mario used to just say “I wished like hell I’d written it better.”

Mario Puzo wrote 'The Godfather' to get out of debt — and made bank

Pic: Mario Puzo

Francis Ford Coppola's $100 Million Bet | GQ

Pic: Francis Ford Coppolla

The phenomenon called COPPOLA

After Paramount Pictures decided to adapt the novel into a movie, they went to a new name…Francis Ford Coppolla. Coppola didn’t hold a degree in filmmaking and was someone who desperately needed a break into the movies. Once he was given the film, he was asked to read the novel. He had just gone about fifty pages and he found the novel extremely uninteresting. Then, the producers asked him to read it and select the ‘Bare Bones’ for the film. Well…that suggestion turned out to be game-changing both for Coppola and Hollywood.

His focus shifted to the detailed layers attached to each character; ranging from a hardcore gangster to a simple family man. In his own words, he realised a new ‘angle’ of the story “Concerning a great king with three sons, each of whom had a single element of what made the king great”. He went ahead further and ripped the book apart out of its binding. He then pasted them on oversized sheets and affixed them into a ringed notebook. After that, he used the notebook to do his revisions, editing and further notes. Also, he used to send his daily work to the author and the feedback and comments he received, Coppolla says were very helpful.

Interestingly, Coppolla hadn’t done any professional course in filmmaking. So, after getting quite a name and acclaim in the industry, he decided that he should read a book or two on filmmaking and scriptwriting. The first book that he picked had the very first line “If you want to write a great screenplay, watch Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Godfather Trilogy’.”

The Magical Screenplay

Now, what else do I need to say about the screenplay, when this movie is taught to every filmmaker in film schools. This is the benchmark that every aspiring filmmaker wishes to touch. If you want to ask me what was the main power of the ‘Screenplay’ not just the script. Firstly, it gave a very deep, detailed and nuanced insight into the Mafia world. All the research that Puzo did for these many years finally bear fruit. Secondly, the screenplay is extremely engaging and captivating. The story is narrated in a sweep; such that even a more than three-hour-long film doesn’t feel stretched or lengthy at any point. Coming up with such kind of a screenplay and weaving graphic violence and family emotions in a perfect mix is what makes this screenplay one of its kind. Further, the dialogues in the movies carry so much weight that they are still used and are relevant.

“My Father Assured Him That Either His Brains Or His Signature Would Be On The Contract.”


A star cast comprising the likes of Marlon Brando, Robert de Niro and Al Pacino needs no further appreciation as it is an Acting Powerhouse in itself. But actually, the character of AL PACINO is the very SOUL of the whole movie. His transformation from a man with good intentions into a ruthless don is the very essence of the film. But, what would be your reaction if the movie was made with someone else, especially without Al Pacino. Well, that was what was supposed to happen. Paramount wanted a big and prominent name like Robert Redford or Warren Beatty for the role. But, one man…Coppolla had a very clear idea in his mind. He wanted one and only one man…Al Pacino. Actually, he had seen him in the film ‘Panic in the Needle Park’. From then only, he was completely convinced that no one can play this pivotal role better than him. Even while reading the book or writing the whole script…there was just one man in his mind. He had to fight with Paramount to bring him up on board. Even after he was signed, initially no one liked Al on the sets. But, as the movie progressed, and one epic scene after the other was shot, Al had won everyone on the set. And…once the movie was released, Coppolla had just gifted the cinematic world with the ‘Once in a Millinium’ Legend.

Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone Makes a Surprising Change

Pic: The last phase of Michael Corleone

Some POWER-HOUSES of the Film

  1. The Legacy Transformation Scene: When Vito was shot and the situation got serious. The Corleone family was unable to come up with a solution. Michael volunteers with a plan and takes the centre stage of risk. Suddenly, cinematography placed him at the centre stage with minimal lighting on his face (something unorthodox at that time). When he executes the risky plan by using the planted gun to kill down dangerous Solozzo and McCluskey. He is very well the power centre of the film. This is very well unarguably the BEST scene in the whole trilogy. Further, let’s briefly look at two more similar powerful scenes. Firstly, when Michael lights the Zippo cigarette of the bodyguard, it is self-realization that he is ready to embrace the power. Secondly, when he pats his injured father saying “Don’t worry…I’ll manage everything”…the legacy is very well transformed.
  2. The Violent Baptism: As Michael ascends the throne, he is very clear that he won’t be negotiating but just eliminating his rivals. One after one, he gets all his rivals killed. The way the killings are shown is so breathtaking yet unique. Someone is killed while shaving, someone while having sex, someone in the lift, someone in the round stair. All this is done with the ‘Baptism’ of Michael’s niece making Michael his ‘Godfather’  happening side by side. The graphic and brutal killings establish Michael as a very powerful character despite him not even touching anyone.
  3. Italian Breakthrough Effect: It is very interesting that Italians were earlier depicted as stereotypes and this movie broke the trend. For the first time, Italians made a movie on Italians and actually ‘Italianized’ the American style. Surprisingly, for this very purpose, the makers specifically wanted an ‘Italian’ Copolla on board. Even the cinematography broke all the existing stereotype styles in Hollywood. Whether it was using extremely dim light on the face of the protagonist or starting the scene with extreme close-up. These were all pathbreaking in cinematic history.
  4. Deadly Orange: I would suggest you all observe this one closely. ‘Orange’ is the signal of danger for the Corleone family. When Vito was shot, he was purchasing oranges, when he died, he was playing with oranges. In the end, when Michael dies, he too was holding an orange. So, it is a very unique and interesting depiction of the Danger sign.
  5. The ENOUGH Scene: In one scene, Michael tries to hide a fact from his wife, related to killings done by him. When she asks, he says “Don’t ask about my Business Kay”. Again she asks and again he denies. When she presses further, Michael shouts ENOUGH!!! Man…the way he said that word, was just so perfect. All the expressions and every nerve on his face were just perfectly placed. That scene was the first indication of the crack in their relationship. When the door closes, that further symbolises Michael entering the dark world once and for all. All in all that was the best ‘Enough’ I ever saw in my life and was ‘Enough’ to make me a fan of Al Pacino.

“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse”


THE GODFATHER' to celebrate 50th Anniversary with limited theatrical  release in Dolby Vision from 25th February 2022! | The Arts Shelf

Pic: 50 Years celebration of The Godfather

50 Years of the EPIC

The trilogy has completed 50 epic years as the first instalment was released in 1972. The movie was also re-released on this occasion. Now, I had already seen it a number of times, but I couldn’t help but watch it again in theatres again. This time, the effect was even greater as I was anxious for the epic scenes. That’s the effect the movie has on me and many others. I am even extremely excited for the second part to come to theatres. This was perhaps the FIRST Real Acting-based Classic that I saw, but definitely not the last. From that point, I just went in deep and further deep into the world of REAL cinema and the beautiful world surrounding it.

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Could anyone had imagined that someone will come up with the idea of making a movie about the mafia world and will end up setting a masterpiece benchmark And, can anyone would have imagined ever seeing so many legends in a single movie, but actually this movie MADE the careers of those Legends. Not just that, it is not simply a gangster drama, it is a Metaphor for Capitalism in America at that time. Don’t think that I have told you the whole film here, it is not even a bucket of the huge Ocean that is called ‘The Godfather’. It is unarguably the GREATEST Classic of all time and perhaps one of the greatest gifts to the movie-lovers. It will be watched and studied for many many years to come. In the end, my regards and sincere thanks to the team that worked and made this wonderful thing happen. The World of Cinema owes a huge Thanks to The Godfather.

“Keep your Friends Close…but Enemies Closer…!!!!!”

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