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Movie Review March 16, 2009

Posted by hodum21 in Uncategorized.

the-godfather-posters1The Godfather Review

Movie Review:

Francis Ford Coppola’s the Godfather has several elements of visual literacy running parallel with his telling of the novel, The Godfather. The story follows the young Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, and how his live is altered by certain actions taken by his mobster father. He is a war hero, who becomes a mobster. The Corleone family’s decision to not be part of the Narcotic cartel is what triggers various incidents which are the catalyst to Michael becoming the head of the Family. Michael is a hero from WW2 and a college student, he is the ideal man of the era, and his digression to violence, murder and becoming head of the mob family is what defines this story. Michael can’t say he loves his girlfriend, because he slowly becomes a man controlled by the social codes and order within the social circles of a mobster. Michaels killing is the change in the character changes Michael the ideal man to Michael the Godfather.
The use of shadows is prevalent in alluding to various themes and ideas within the movie. The movie begins with a man talking about America and is framed out by shadows and is slowly no longer the main subject, the shadows give perspective on the man’s face emphasizing him. As it backs out and introduces a man’s hand and back of his head, changes the main subject of the scene and brings Marlon Brando as the main subject of the shot. This scene captures what America is, a place of freedom and fore bringer of wealth, but slowly becomes described as a place of evil. The Godfather is a tale of how America was and is for many people; a country with morale, honor and social code defined by various cultures, and this story is of the Mobster culture and its stronghold on American lifestyle.
Color is another key element within the movie. Blacks and whites and hint of strong colors, red; bright colors aren’t apparent throughout the film even though it is a very violent movie. Many of the rooms are in black and white and have very mute colors, bright colors are meant to emphasize certain images, and ideas. Many murder scenes’ are very dark scenes, with black a main color. What make’s this movie great isn’t only the images presented, but the dialogue being said. Be it, “going to the mattresses, or swimming with the fishes.” This movie lays the foundation for all future mafia movies. It’s great to see so many actors that are old today as young actors.
The movie also uses music as a great way to set the tone and feeling for each scene and transition between various settings. When the mobsters are talking business or killing the music is very grim but during happy moments, the few that are in the movie have very up lifting and very Italian traditional music. Different music for different scenes helps the viewer transition from place to place without it being said that you are no longer in New York but California or Italy. The sound of music gets louder, adding intensity as to sequence and increase emotion for each scene. The transitions of Michael becoming more evil is emphasized through music, because in the beginning happy music, is played when he’s there, bright colors, less shadows. The Piano helps allude to something bad happening, shadows, black, grim music all add to and allude to evil and death is coming.
Sicilian culture and traditions are prominent throughout and add a layer of depth and intensity to the film. Hearing people say racial slurs and not be flustered to hear such obscenities shows how times have changed and helps us understand our past. Prejudice to all those who aren’t Sicilian is emphasized, adding to the importance of family and xenophobia.
Many shots of dialogue are taken of close up shots of the actors speaking, which emphasizes what they are saying rather than the foreground or background. The Foreground and background can distract the audiences and take away the desire of said scene so a framing is done with either shadow work or camera work to set up a frame and emphasize a scene.
Background scenery is also a great facet to this movie. Some of the great shots are of New York City, and the scenery, because it’s a tale of America; capture various settings that define New York and American culture. The use of Italian throughout the film helps create an interesting culture within the movie that isn’t always present in cinema.
Michael’s catalyst to becoming part of the families business is when he decides to kill the cop and head of one of the Mob Families. Michael comes out of the bathroom, and the shot is in almost a slow motion, zooming in on Michael having less and less emphasis on what the enemy is saying, train tracks being a metaphor for Michael’s frustration, using music as a way to tell peoples feelings and add emotion to a scene. Michael escapes to Italy and the countryside of Italy is a setting that provides peace but an area where Michael chooses to maintain his Mobster mentality.
My favorite scene is when Michael is walking with his Italian Woman whom he marries, the tradition behind asking the woman to marry him, having to ask the father for permission, having to meet the entire extended family, going on a walk with the girl and having all the mothers and grandmothers follow. This scene reminds me of traditional Spanish culture.
After Sonny’s death, Michael’s brother, he understands his role and obligation to his family, even though he can decide to leave it be. He no longer wears his army uniform but dark black tuxedos, dressed fancy.
The scene when he goes to Las Vegas and the line that he says, “I love you but don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again, ever” is a powerful line that shows his evil intent no matter what happens the family sticks together and if it doesn’t those who oppose would faith his wrath. He will “make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
The funeral scenes, is a perfect example of a scene that uses many terms used throughout the class, repetition, when all the mobsters get out of there cars, perspective, when the limos are driving into the cemetery, lines, symmetry, and also framing are all used to illustrate the scene within the picture.
“Leave the gun, take the cannolis,” a gun taped behind the toilet seat are but a pair of examples of dialogue and imagery that will forever be imbedded in American pop culture and cinematic history.
When Michael becomes a godfather to his sisters kid, he also becomes godfather of the business by killing off all the heads of the other families, the use of music again is used during the killing, the religious piano organ is used during times of death and killing, this juxtaposition of the religious and peaceful music used during scenes of death adds an ironic tone to the familial and religious façade that the Godfathers presents to his friends and family members.
The killing of family and friends shows how evil and obtuse Michael has become, contrary to the heroic veteran that he was portrayed as. The falling out of grace by Michael is the underlying theme of this movie, which can be a metaphor of American culture and how easily man can be an agent of evil when he himself was a defender of good and justice. A son becoming more than a man, more than a mobster, but a Godfather, is the tale of Michael Coreleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s, The Godfather.



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