By Peter Colaner
After reviewing a lesser renowned trilogy, “The Hangover,” for my first “Trilogy Talk” blog, I decided to go in the opposite route this week and review one of the most critically acclaimed trilogies of all time, “The Godfather.”
“The Godfather” trilogy is exceedingly successful because it hits home for many film aficionados as well as Italian-Americans.
For film aficionados, the trilogy combines unique direction from Francis Ford Coppola with cinematography that fuels exacting emotions during every scene throughout the series.
For Italian-Americans, the scenes of young Vito Andolini, played by Oreste Baldini, immigrating through Ellis Island and the extravagant family parties thrown into each of “The Godfather” films tap into the experiences lived by many older Italian-Americans.
A key component of constructing a distinguished trilogy is creating three exceptional movies. “The Godfather” and its sequel “The Godfather Part II” are ranked among the greatest films of all time, and that isn’t to say that “The Godfather Part III” is a bad movie. In fact, the third Godfather is an outstanding movie, but pales in comparison to the first two.
Something of equal importance to making a trilogy is linking all three parts together. In “The Godfather” trilogy, the second film builds off of the first and the third film builds off of the second.
Over the course of the trilogy, Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, is featured in three distinct life stages. By seamlessly transitioning from one life chapter to another, Corleone’s evolution is synchronous with “The Godfather” story arc.
Because the first two films in “The Godfather” set are based off of Mario Puzo’s novel “The Godfather,” Coppola had to create a sequel to finish the book’s translation into a film. The third Godfather brings the series full circle by making Corleone seem all the more like his father through his similar descent as the Don.
“The Godfather” trilogy is authentic and it feels nitpicky to reflect upon its negative aspects, but it is incumbent upon me to objectively review the trilogy.
In each of “The Godfather” productions, there are several moving parts. Each film is set in a myriad of locations and there are countless characters to follow, making it somewhat burdensome to keep track of the storyline.
In addition to the complex mechanics, each film runs around three hours in length, making it all the more difficult to catch every subtle hint or valuable scene.
Given my short attention span, I had to watch this trilogy multiple times before I could fully appreciate it and connect the dots.
Lastly, I found a subtle detail in the first Godfather film to be careless. When Sonny Corleone, played by James Caan, throws a punch at Carlo, played by Gianni Russo, for abusing Connie, played by Talia Shire, and completely whiffs, I was reminded of my sixth grade self turning in an important paper and saying “screw it.”
“The Godfather” trilogy is a behemoth that spans around nine hours and is jam-packed with action that keeps viewers steeped with anticipation. Not many trilogies can have such a tightly knit structure for such a long duration, which is commendable.
Although the trilogy takes time to understand, the effort is worth the pleasure derived from making sense of the complex plots. All in all, “The Godfather” series is the godfather of trilogies.