On the occasion of this great celebration of the world of cinema, Paramount Pictures has announced that the film by the legendary director Francis Ford Coppola will have a limited re-release in cinemas starting on February 25 in different cinemas around the world (including Peru). The Godfather is, without a doubt, one of the most influential films in history, whose impact has transcended the gangster film genre.
For the 50th anniversary of the original release of the first film, March 24, 197two, Paramount Pictures and Francis Ford Coppola’s production company, American Zoetrope, carried out a meticulous restoration of the three films over three years. More than 300 boxes of film reels were examined to find the best possible resolution for each frame on each of the tapes, and more than 4,000 hours were spent repairing blemishes, tears, and other anomalies on the negatives, all overseen by Coppola and the director of photography Gordon Willis.
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Lights and shadows of a classic: 25 facts, 50 years of history
- The film The Godfather is based on the homonymous novel (which in turn is based on the Mortillaro royal family of Sicily, Italy) by the Italian-born American writer Mario Puzo.
- Paramount Pictures bought the rights to the novel for the price of $80,000, before it gained popularity.
- Paramount executives had trouble finding a director. His first candidates turned down the job before Coppola signed on to direct the film.
- It was quite a surprise that a director as young as Francis Ford Coppola was given the task of adapting writer Mario Puzo’s bestseller The Godfather in 1972, especially having made some films that were box office flops.
- Director and writer wrote the screenplay, which would win the Oscar for Best Screenplay in 1972.
- Data from the legend behind The Godfather says that Coppola and Puzo worked in separate rooms and then met to talk about what they were making.
- It is said that Mario Puzo wrote the script for his novel with Marlon Brando in mind.
- The chemistry between the director and the writer was so great that they would later write the second and third parts of The Godfather.
- Coppola was so enchanted by Puzzo’s work that he had a special version printed with large margins so he could annotate it.
- The film was produced by Albert S. Ruddy of Paramount Pictures.
- Paramount, which owned the rights to The Godfather and the production house, was against Marlon Brando playing the legendary character of Vito Corleone because, in those years, the iconic actor was already considered a problematic character.
- To Coppola, however, there was no one more perfect for the role than Brando. For him to be able to participate, Marlon’s salary was reduced and rules were put on him, which the actor accepted for 1.5 million dollars.
- Coppola fought hard with Brando to cast him as Vito Corleone’s character was written.
- Marlon Brando on his character: “I got to know a few mobsters, and they all told me they loved the movie because I had played the godfather with dignity.”
- Another of the actors who did not have the approval of Paramount was Al Pacino, who played Michael Corleone, because, at that time, he was not yet a recognized actor, until Coppola showed the producers the scene in which they kill Virgil Sollozzo, with which they let interfere in Coppola’s casting decisions.
- Paramount, who, despite handing over the project to Coppola, did not blindly trust him. This generated that an infinity of actors did casting for different roles.
- For example, Robert De Niro auditioned for the role of Sonny Corleone, but it was Vito Corleone as a young man (in the second film). Also, James Caan auditioned for the role of Michael Corleone, but got the role of Sonny.
- The cast was packed with future stars like Diane Keaton (Kay Adams), Talia Shire (Connie Corleone) and Robert Duval (Tom Hagen).
- The shooting of the film took place mainly in New York and in Sicily, and was completed ahead of schedule.
- The musical score was primarily composed by Nino Rota, with additional pieces by Carmine Coppola.
- The Godfather was one of the most popular films of 1972 and was, for a time, the highest-grossing film, grossing around $286 million.
- At the 45th Academy Awards, it won for Best Picture, Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and Best Adapted Screenplay (for Puzo and Coppola).
- The film is considered to be one of the best and most influential films ever made, especially from the gangster film genre.
- It was selected for preservation in the United States by the United States Library of Congress’s National Film Registry in 1990, as it was deemed culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
- The Godfather is considered the second best film in American cinema (behind Citizen Kane) by the American Film Institute.
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A little known fact is that The Godfather is influenced in its visual conception by one of the greatest minds in painting Michelangelo Caravaggio, thanks to the chiaroscuro that plays an important role in this production. This excellent lighting and photography work was done by Gordon Willis, who broke the standards of film photography in the 1970s with his bold use of colour, light, shadows and underexposure.
A genuine legacy
The legacy of The Godfather in the cinema and in the world’s pop culture was reflected in all the iconography and references that we inherited after the release of the three films. The godfather became the paradigm of the mobster: a rich old man, stereotype of the refined man in his ways, strategist and boss, cynical and unscrupulous. Model not only of the mafia (to speak on the illegal side), but of capitalism and the United States.
Because of this model of character -and of real man- it has lasted so long, capitalism has made him more mafioso, entrenching the gangster genre, where in one way or another it influenced, resulting in films like Goodfellas (1990) and The Irishman (2019), directed by Martin Scorsese; Scarface (1980) by Brian de Palma, Donnie Brasco (1997) by Mike Newell, among many others. All inspired to a lesser or greater extent by The Godfather.
Trailer for The Godfather, 50 years