The Godfather (1972)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Godfather</strong> (1972)

(On DVD, December 2009) It’s easy to think that you know The Godfather without having actually seen The Godfather: Few movies have become as integral to American pop culture as this one: You have seen the parodies, heard the references, watched the rip-offs, caught bits and pieces of the TV broadcasts, maybe even played the video game.  But nothing replaces a good lengthy sit-down with the film from beginning to end: Clocking in at slightly less than three hours, The Godfather is a sumptuous piece of work.  Finely mastered, superbly written and featuring a cast of characters that directors would kill for (most notably an impossibly young Al Pacino), it remains an impressive piece of work even after nearly forty years of cultural impact.  Although the innovation of presenting gangster protagonists can’t be properly felt now compared to 1972, The Godfather keeps making an impact through sheer film artistry: All the pieces selected by director Francis Ford Coppola click together in a satisfying fashion, and the much-quoted segments only add to the film.  With a large cast of character and a story that sprawls over a decade following WW2, the script makes few concessions to inattentive viewers.  (It also takes risks that would doom other films, such as setting much of its first half-hour at a wedding reception.)  Most curiously, it’s also a film that feels more rounded by its equally masterful sequel.  Why is it that they don’t make movies like that anymore?

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