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The Godfather

An offer you can't refuse. 

Year: 1972 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola 
Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan  
An image from The Godfather

In 1972, Francis Ford Coppola was hired to direct a film adaptation of the novel The Godfather by Mario Puzo. The result would change gangster cinema forever. It stormed the box office and took three Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando) and Best Adapted Screenplay. Even now it ranks as the second greatest American film in history, beaten only by Citizen Kane.

Spanning ten years of one family’s history from 1945 to 1955, the film tells the story of the powerful Corleone family, an Italian American Mafia clan ruled over by Don Vito Corleone (Brando). Like Shakespeare’s King Lear, the Don knows that his empire’s future rests with his three sons: Sonny (Caan), Fredo (John Cazale) and Michael (Pacino), who is at first reluctant to be drawn into the dark dealings of his father’s empire. But when an attempt is made on the Don’s life by rival gangs, Michael must take up his father’s mantle to exact revenge on their enemies and to secure the future of the family business.

At once violent and poetic, brutal and majestic, this is a film that remains a landmark. It not only cemented Coppola and Brando’s places in cinema history, but marked the rise of Pacino, whose depiction of Michael’s transformation from reluctant outsider to ruthless mafia boss became the heart of the Godfather trilogy. It is a rare film that strikes a perfect balance in direction, performances, the quality of the writing and the Shakespearean magnitude of the story. Do not miss this classic.

Charles Eades

Truly a masterpiece of leviathan proportions, The Godfather has managed to rake up countless awards over the years, including 3 Oscars, and acts as a meeting point for some of the finest actors Hollywood has ever seen.

The first movie in the Godfather trilogy, based on Mario Puzo's best-selling novel, is set in post-World War II America and sees the ageing Don Vito Corleone (Brando) relinquish his control as head of a once powerful Sicilian Mafiosi family to his son, Michael (Pacino), a war-hero who originally had no intention to be a part of this family business. After Don Vito Corleone is the victim of a near-successful assassination attempt, the family are out for revenge, and Michael steps up to the challenge. A vicious vendetta between the Mafiosi families ensues, leaving Micheal as the new head of the Corleones; he must act brutally and expediently to clear the 'bad blood' apparent in the New York Mafia, resulting in a violent and chilling depiction of the trials of mob life.

The film sees a clash between old fashioned values of the Sicilian code of honour and the deceit and corruption that so engulfs the Mafia families of New York. The film exposes the grim realities of betrayal and the vendetta, as Coppola seamlessly contrasts Corleone family life with the ugliness of the organised crime business.

Everyone's heard the lines or seen a parody at some point; the fact is that The Godfather has come to be an integral part of popular culture. It has become an enduring classic that has influenced all modern cinema. Witness the style and substance that one of the last century's greatest cinematic triumphs exudes... and have a bloody good time feasting on all the action.

Raam Dutia

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Screenings of this film:

2009/2010 Spring Term (35mm)
2012/2013 Spring Term (35mm)
2016/2017 Spring Term (35mm)
2018/2019 Summer Term (35mm)
2021/2022 Spring Term (35mm)