The Godfather 50th Anniversary

On March 25, 1972, “The Godfather” was released. 50 years later, the film is still considered one of the most influential works in the industry.

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the movie was adapted from Mario Puzo’s novel that follows Mafia Don Vito Corleone and his family. Vito’s youngest son, Michael, returns from war and joins the family business, where he works to find his place.

“The Godfather” popularized this type of mobster narrative, as seen through its influence on shows like “The Sopranos,” or movies like “Goodfellas.” However, as one of 29 year old Coppola’s first films, its explosive success wasn’t anticipated. Production wasn’t easy, as he got into many scuffles with studio executives surrounding the story and casting. Against expectations, the film went on to win three Oscars and five Golden Globes and was ranked by the American Film Institute as the third greatest American film of all time, so it’s safe to say that it’s worth watching.

Berkley senior Brandon Urikh states, “‘The Godfather’ lives up to its title as one of the greatest films of all time. Coppola’s screenplay weaves profound explorations of power, family, and loyalty into the riveting backdrop of a mafia dynasty in post-war New York City, directing his words with grit and passion. Marlon Brando’s performance is the best of his career, with fantastic supporting turns from Duvall and Caan, but Pacino is the true standout in the role that put him on the map. Nina Rota’s score is chilling, and the design crafts all around are pretty impeccable. This is one of few ‘classics’ that truly lives up to and exceeds expectations.”

Similarly, BHS Film Studies teacher Mr. Cierpial explains, “In terms of why it’s wonderful, I think it’s just the distinction of the characters. Marlon Brando at that point in his career, young Al Pacino…those are such tightly drawn characters that they make the film memorable. It’s also the editing. I haven’t seen this movie in like two decades, but there’s a scene near the end of the movie where there is this juxtaposition between the Al Pacino character ascending in the mob, and its cross cutting to this violent act that I won’t spoil, but it is super memorable and effective. It’s those kinds of film-y moves that make it great. It’s also just baroque and rich and visually dark…it’s painterly and beautiful to look at.”

To commemorate the anniversary, beginning March 22, “The Godfather” trilogy will be available to view in 4K Ultra HD. The original movie was shot entirely on film, and those who have seen it are well aware that many scenes have very dark lighting, making it difficult to see what is happening. After over 1,000 hours of color correction, and 4,000 hours repairing film, these scenes have been adjusted for optimal viewing. The re-release was already screened at select Dolby Cinema theaters in California in February, and is currently sitting at #32 on the 2022 Worldwide Box Office chart.

Despite its age, the film’s influence has managed to span many generations, and whether you love it or hate it, there is no denying its enormous impact on culture and the film industry.