The Godfather

An offer you can't refuse - Case study of a timeless film classic

This year VFF will be opened by the film which has belonged to the best for more than 40 years, a timeless classic The Godfather. This film by Francis Ford Coppola has won more than 33 awards, including 3 Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Actor in Main Role, Best Adapted Screenplay). The screening will be followed by a discussion with the sound mixer Christopher Newman. 


"The Godfather, which opened at five theaters here yesterday, is a superb Hollywood movie that was photographed mostly in New York (with locations in Las Vegas, Sicily, and Hollywood). It's the gangster melodrama come of age, truly sorrowful and truly exciting, without the false piety of the films that flourished forty years ago, scaring the delighted hell out of us while cautioning that crime doesn't (or, at least, shouldn't) pay."

Vincent Canby, NY Times, March 1972


An epic tale of a 1940s New York Mafia family and their struggle to protect their empire from rival families. The story follows the youngest son of Corleone family – Michael (Al Pacino) -  transforming from reluctant family outsider to a ruthless Mafia boss, who succeeds his father – Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) – as the head of the family.



Paramount took an option on Mario Puzo’s The Godfather even before it was published at the time when it was only a twenty-page outline. The book, published in 1969, became a bestseller (10 million copies) so any film version was fairly sure to be profitable because of the huge success of the novel. After twelve refusals by directors such as Sergio Leone or Peter Bogdanovich, Paramount announced in 1970 that the film adaptation of Puzo´s bestseller would be directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola, in his thirties, reluctantly followed the advice of his friend George Lucas to make this picture. To him, this was a commercially unpalatable project that had nothing to do with his personal ambition: to change the way Hollywood was making movies.

"The Godfather was a very unappreciated movie when we were making it. They were very unhappy with it. They didn't like the cast. They didn't like the way I was shooting it. I was always on the verge of getting fired. So it was an extremely nightmarish experience. I had two little kids, and the third one was born during that. We lived in a little apartment, and I was basically frightened that they didn't like it. They had as much as said that, so when it was all over I wasn't at all confident that it was going to be successful, and that I'd ever get another job."

Francis Ford Coppola


Although there were many films about gangsters before The Godfather, Coppola's nuanced treatment of the Corleone family and their associates, and his portrayal of mobsters as characters of considerable psychological depth and complexity was an innovation. In 1972, the film became US box office leader. It was followed by two sequels: The Godfather Part II in 1974, and The Godfather Part III in 1990.  

"With Puzo, Coppola forged an epic tragedy about America, capitalism, family, greed, treachery and love. He showed us -- with almost Shakespearean gravitas -- the errors of hasty vengeance and the wisdom of assured leadership. He gave us a great American picture, full of incredible images and lasting moments."

Desson Howe, Washington Post, March 2008



The Godfather is widely regarded as one of the greatest films in world cinema history. The film has influenced all parts of popular culture, including film and television. In 2006 a video game version of The Godfather was also released by Electronic Arts. An indication of the continuing influence of The Godfather and its sequels can be gleaned from the many references to it which have appeared in every medium of popular culture in the decades since the film's initial release.

"One of Hollywood's greatest critical and commercial successes, The Godfather gets everything right; not only did the movie transcend expectations, it established new benchmarks for American cinema."       



Cast Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall | Directed by Francis Ford Coppola | Produced by Albert S. Ruddy| Cinematography Gordon Willis| Editing William Reynolds, Peter Zinner| Sound Charles Grenzbach, Richard Portman, Christopher Newman | 175´ |USA| 1972