What can be said that hasn’t been said before? It’s a classic. A game changer in American history. The acting, cinematography, casting, direction, even the script — all of them, game changers. This kickstarted not just a wave of 70s filmmaking, but even Spielberg and Lucas — and this, almost all modern Hollywood filmmaking — can draw roots back to this very film. 

I think what stands out to me (on what’s maybe my 20th re-watch) is that The Godfather is the first American film that’s both political and personal. It’s a father/​son story, but it’s also a metaphor for political greed (particularly American politics post-JFK). A lot of films are political, and many other films are personal, but there aren’t many that successfully do both. 

Of course, the sequel (which I had no time to immediately watch, sadly) is so treasured because it takes all the same stuff and pushes it to its extreme limits. Father/​son story? No problem: compare and contrast their intentions and values at the same age. Politics? America is too small for this stage — let’s tell the story of the Roman Empire! 

Coppola was truly on a different level in the 1970s, and there was no competition. He was making and breaking rules all the time. He elevated the entire industry in just a single blow. 

What I’m saying is, maybe we’ve actually under-rated The Godfather

Postscript: I watched this with six people who had never seen it before. Two of them were consistently confused from the opening scene. (The other four quite enjoyed themselves.) Movies have changed a lot. I wish they made more movies like this today: movies where paying attention is rewarded, and the film assumes its audience is engaged. It’s possible to do this while still making blockbuster tentpoles: consider Raiders of the Lost Ark. Unlike The Matrix or Inception, which practically sit you down and spend half the movie explaining themselves to you, Raiders assumes you’re paying attention. And it’s flawless.

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