While there was little I could say about The Godfather and The Godfather Part II (since there are already countless essays, books, even documentaries on them) there is even LESS to say about The Godfather Part III. It’s small every sense of the word. It’s the shortest of the three, it has the weakest cast of the three, and it’s of little consequence.
What it’s previous entires had in spades (pathos, humanity, comedy, extreme violence, mystery, intrigue…) The Godfather Part III has none of those things. It is a supremely dour affair and despite it having a great final 20 minutes (which was still muddied by a completely nonsensical plot), nothing prior to that lived up to anything else we’ve seen from this series.
I wish I had more to say on The Godfather Part III. I knew going in that it would be frustratingly poor in comparison to the other two that I just experienced in these past few months, but man I didn’t expect it to just be so darn dull.
‘dat old-man sweater tho…
Yeah yeah yeah it’s midway through the month and I should be watching Godfather Part III but here I am just typing up my review to Part II (which I DID watch before the end of May, so it kinda counts.) My wife says I should be ashamed, even more so than a typical Cinema Shame… and I am. So here it is, however brief it may be.
After the unexpected success of The Godfather, it’s no surprise that the studios demanded a sequel, and I think they got even more than they ever expected from it. Widely considered the premier sequel that all should look up to, The Godfather Part II is a rousing success on every. single. level. And it improves on it’s predecessor in ways you knew it would do, but didn’t know how.
It’s sprawling and widely ambitious, the stakes are higher than ever before, and yet it never loses that intimacy that made the first so great. For being both a sequel AND a prequel (WHO KNEW?!) it never loses its focus.
For all the ways De Niro’s Vito rises to the respectable (if still brutal) Don he was always meant to be, seeing Pacino’s Michael delve deeper and deeper into this world he never wanted to be a part of is heartbreaking and frustrating. He’s nothing like the father he replaced and though it’s hard to say if the methods employed were truly justified as he essentially rampages his enemies, you always get the sense that he could not have ended up any other way. It’s Shakespearean in the depths of its tragedy.
I’m so glad I finally got to see this film. Honestly I waited to long to see it (even this past month) due to the length of nearly four hours, but it flew by faster than any film I’ve seen in recent memory. This makes the task of watching Part III all the more… unappealing. I hope it lives up to the last two but history tells me that it won’t… 😦
How have I not seen this sooner?
As part of my Cinema Shame challenge, this one has always been my biggest embarrassment. There was always the opportunity, and I turned it down time and time again. Maybe it was the understated but iconic cover art that always seemed to scream “I’m important!!” every time I saw it, or the annoying heaps and heaps of praise it has gotten, has always gotten, and will forever get… Or maybe I just presumed I’ve seen better, more recent, tighter mafia movies already. Whatever the case may be, it’s always been just outside my radar, an empty space where film knowledge should be.
From the opening scenes you immediately get thrown into calm before the storm. Even with the opening monologue and it’s horrific subject matter are quiet and understated. We visit a wedding reception that wouldn’t be out of place in the deepest parts of Italy. You can practically taste the freshly cured sausage on the plates.
As the film goes on and we are introduced to a wide variety of the worlds worst scum, you can’t help but empathize with these fully human characters. Coppola lets his script breathe, gaining more and more life with each beat. Despite the 3 hour running time, the film flies by, even in the more contemplative scenes.
Though I always knew it to be the case, it’s still fascinating to see how much of modern crime cinema (and more recently, television) has been influenced by this seminal masterpiece. The focus on character over plotting, the almost meditative pace interrupted by extreme instances of violence and cruelty, even the sprawling, ten year time line… It’s amazing how influential this film has been and will continue to be.
I’m glad I finally forced myself to see it. I’m glad the praise was not hyperbole. And I’m glad that it exists. The Godfather IS a masterpiece, clearly.
4 1/2 out of 5 Bullets