The 50th anniversary of The Godfather recalls to us that the double-feature of Godfathers I and II were the very first films presented by the new Naro Expanded Cinema in 1977. (45 years ago.) Arguably one of cinema’s most iconic works, we’re pleased to participate in its re-release for a new generation to enjoy on the big screen with the latest in digital projection and sound. (We naturally expect many fellow old-timers to come out too!)
The late great film critic for The New Yorker Pauline Kael reviewed the film back in 1972 and her piece retains its brilliance for its superlative writing and in-depth analysis of various aspects of the film – music, cinematography, themes, and even some of the underlying sociological messages it contains – now more relevant than ever:
In “The Godfather” we see organized crime as an obscene symbolic extension of free enterprise and government policy, an extension of the worst in America—its feudal ruthlessness. Organized crime is not a rejection of Americanism, it’s what we fear Americanism to be. It’s our nightmare of the American system. When “Americanism” was a form of cheerful bland official optimism, the gangster used to be destroyed at the end of the movie and our feelings resolved. Now the mood of the whole country has darkened, guiltily; nothing is resolved at the end of “The Godfather,” because the family business goes on. Terry Malloy didn’t clean up the docks at the end of “On the Waterfront;” that was a lie. “The Godfather” is popular melodrama, but it expresses a new tragic realism. (excerpt from ‘Alchemy’ by Pauline Kael, The New Yorker magazine, March 10, 1972)
Read the full article here or listen to it being read by actress Edie Falco here.
Feel free to post your own thoughts below about The Godfather and/or Kael’s review.