Sunday, May 07, 2006

Strictly Business

So, last Friday I finally managed to become on par with the rest of the world as I watched the closing credits of “The Godfather: Part III”, thus ending the journey started three weeks earlier when I saw the title screen for “The Godfather”.

“The Godfather” is probably the most famous Mafia series in the world. The image provided by Marlon Brando became the stereotype for the Sicilian mobster. It’s a movie often mentioned and (mis)quoted.
What did I think of it? Let’s go by parts:

Part I:
The first movie of the series is, without doubt, the best and most interesting of the three. Not only because it has Brando playing the famous Don Vito Corleone, but also because the story is one of strongest and most coherent.
I was rather surprised by how small the participation of Brando is compared to what I expected, and still he succeeds in becoming the most memorable character. The rising (downfall?) of Michael Corleone from honest guy, trying to keep away from the family business, to leader of the family itself also presents many interesting moments, namely the excellent ending sequence.
The remaining of the movie is parted between the family “businesses” and a war between the top families.
All in all, this is a great gangster movie if rather slow in pacing.

Part II:
Apparently many people acclaim this as the better of the series, personally I found it un-interesting and boring.
“The Godfather: Part II” is divided in two storylines: One is the rising of Vito Corleone (this time played by Robert De Niro) to head of a crime organization while the other continues the story of the now head of the family Michael Corleone.
Vito Corleone’s side of the story appears sporadically throughout the movie. And while it had potential to be quite interesting, I felt disappointed. In the original movie, Don Corleone is presented as someone that (if you squint a bit) can be considered as a good man doing what he has to do to protect and help his family. On this one he is little more than a thief and a murderer, inspiring more fear than respect.
Michael’s side of the story starts in a very (and I mean very) similar way to the start of the previous movie, making one wonder if the original idea of the movie was just to make some more money. The remaining of the story just…. is. The guiding line is weak, making that they mostly just wonder around killing (or trying to) someone now and then. There are also a few disconnected events, like the trial, that appear out of no-where and have little effect on the story.
It’s a viewable movie, but not for the name and it would be unknown by most people. The slow pacing, which is a feature in all of the series, hurts the most in this movie (the other two pass mostly unscathed).
I dunno… was I the only one who felt this was not that great?

Part III
“The Godfather: Part III” was made a lot of time after the other two, and this is obvious in many elements and style of the story (and I’m not talking about the actors being older). Perhaps this is what harmed the movie the most, since many of the classic Mafia references are gone.
The story is similar in construction with the first movie, with the beginning and ending having very little to do with one another, but with a logical evolution between the two. There are also several references to the previous movies, namely part one, some obvious and some a little more obscure, like the baker Enzo, meaning that more than a sequel this movie also pays a lot of tribute.
Among the new acquisitions to the cast, there are two I would like to mention: One is Sofia Coppola who obviously only got the part because a) they didn’t manage to get anyone else and b) she was the director’s daughter. The other is Andy Garcia, who really shines towards the ending of the movie simply for his style.
I don’t know what else to say about this movie, so I won’t.

All in all, the Godfather trilogy is an interesting watch, but not one that most people would be willing to do often. They’re classics and they deserve to be treated as such. I recommend the first movie to anyone who likes a good movie. The other two are not essential, but, among the two, modern audiences are more likely to enjoy part III.

In other news, Life of Fiction now has a new collaborator. Say hello to Zavatar and expect his first post soon.

Really soon…

Any minute now…

On second thought, just check by in a few days or something.


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