It seems that for anyone to classify themselves as a true film lover, they must always take a stance on the films that make all those ‘greatest ever’ lists. Of course, many of those underground critics you over hear talking in restaurants, or debating in pubs about these films will more oft than not be blissfully unaware of the real reason why these films are so revered, having not actually seen them, yet they discuss them all the same which personally, makes me believe there is something truly special about these flicks.
There is no denying the fact however, that these lists are always up for the debate; it’s a matter of opinion and taste after all, but the very fact that so many different people share a similar view means that there must be some meat to it. Perhaps one of the meatiest dishes on these menus is Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Godfather’, a film which has been hailed as one of the greats since its release, and if you haven’t seen it for whatever reason; maybe because you don’t think its your cup of tea, or maybe because it’s too mainstream for your hipster self, I really would give it a watch, because it is exactly what everyone says it is, a masterpiece.
Now, that word isn’t used lightly but when it comes to a film of this caliber, it’s hard to find any other fitting word, and the major part of any criticisms that have been awarded to this film is that no viewer can really hold them against it, because the positives are too many and too great.
For one, The Godfather isn’t overly stylized – if anything, the ‘gangster’ setting is underplayed so the audience can experience a more real life setting, a setting in which feels real and alive, and one we feel we could be part of. Unlike many gangster films today, The Godfather doesn’t glorify crime, nor does it serve to judge those who commit it – instead it simply shows it for what it is, a normality to the characters we’re following. Some awful things happen sure, but never once does it have to take the route Scorsese would make famous with his gangsters – you know, that semi-pretentious route of making the crimes an essential part of the characters, and presenting it more as a form of fun rather than what it’s supposed be according to the characters, business.
So why do I think it’s a masterpiece? Well, my opinion is aligned with many other opinions that have already been explained a thousand times over, so I’ll expand on the one thing that really makes me enjoy this film, and that’s the dialogue. Over the past few years, many have hailed Quentin Tarantino as the master of dialogue, yet because of the Godfather, I would hand that crown over to FFC.
Yes, the dialogue of the Godfather is to me what separates it not only from other crime films, but from many films across several genres. The dialogue moves at a slow pace, yet its pace and the content of the conversation invites the viewer to listen closely and carefully as if they were a part of the several meetings that happen.
Not only that, but it becomes clear very quickly that the dialogue is woven together not only to create a great narrative, but to allow its viewers to easily gain insight into the characters without it being too obvious or silly. When you take the meeting between the Corleones and ‘The Turk’ for instance, we’re not only listening to a major plot point that will go on to shape the story, we’re also finding more out about how the Corleones work together, and Vito’s personal feelings toward the drug empire.
The lines however aren’t separated, there are no lines for the plot and lines for the characters in separation, they all come together, making the pace and the narrative one of the best you will ever see, and to me, that’s what makes this film a masterpiece.
Now, you may be thinking ‘that is not enough info to back up a masterpiece claim’, and you could be right. To be honest, there are brains and opinions out there way more qualified than mine who talk about this film with much more depth and precision, so I would recommendone of those if you were looking for an essay of praise toward this film.
In fact, I have ulterior motives for this post, and that’s because in my next post, there’s something I would like to dive into the deep end of – and it may involve the same director, and it may not be all that positive.
Oh yeah, that’s right – saying something positive before something negative, I’m on the same level as those teachers you always hated. What can I say, I’m an edgy bastard like that.
It’s Dracula by the way, next time I’m going to be talking about Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula.