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The Godfather: Analysis of a Movie Classic

The Godfather: Analysis of a Movie Classic

What makes a movie a ôclassicö? Is it a powerful story, brilliant direction, and strong acting performances? Or is it the interweaving of these key elements, plus something more?

Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather epitomizes a classic movie. It was the top-grossing film of 1972 and went on to become the top-selling video of 1980, the first year that Billboard published its top-seller's list (Thompson 7). It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won three. Its legacy lives on in subsequent mob-genre movies as well as in the recent hit TV show The Sopranos (Nochimson). Imitations of its most memorable character, Mafia family head Don Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, can be found throughout popular American culture and the phrase, ôI'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse,ö has become a part of classic American film-speak. The Godfather can thus be considered a movie classic; in studying it, one begins to discern the creative forces that contribute to power and long-lasting legacy in any film, or, for that manner, any endeavor.

Upon analyzing the film's production history, sociologic context, and composition, four key elements emerge as central to its success. They are 1) monetary motivation, 2) creative passion, 3) mastery of subject matter, and 4) brilliant craftsmanship. An examination of The Godfather from multiple perspectives reveals how these abstract elements led tn the creation of a legendary work of cinematography.

What inspires an artist to pursue his craft? Somewhere from the depths of his subconscious stirs inspiration. In the case of Mario Puzo, author of the book The Godfather, this passion was ostensibly financial. As related by Peter Bart, a then-vice president for Paramount Pictures who worked with Puzo to make the book a movie, Puzo at age forty-five was in debt and at the end of his financial rope, having published several books that had not achie...

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