The Godfather I-III

Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Andy Garcia

I have this mental blockage with regard to three-hour movies; someone had better be telling me something very, very important. Coppola's blockbuster trilogy averages 182 minutes per movie, peaking at 200 for Part II, and never quite justifies such buttock-numbing length. Despite frequent moments of sublime greatness, and a pivotal performance from Pacino as the Michael Corleone, the unwilling mobster who gradually becomes head of the family "business", there is too much at which you can point a finger as superfluous. Part I has Michael's exile to Sicily; Part II has the entire "young Don Corleone" story (which would have made sense in part I, but is a distraction here); Part III has the relationship between Garcia and Sofia Coppola, though this should have been cut, based purely on the latter's woeful inability to act.

Actually, the last-named isn't quite as bad as its reputation might lead one to believe; the struggle of Michael to achieve respectability, in the face of relentless pressure to resume his criminal ways, makes for gripping viewing. Naturally, also enjoyed the conspiratorial undertones, with a surprising amount of accurate facts in there. If that part surpassed my expectations, the first two didn't quite reach them; what was probably a ground-breaking portrayal of organised crime thirty years ago, is now highly familar. Can't criticise the acting on view though, and amusing to see the likes of Danny Aiello and Harry Dean Stanton in walk-on roles. It is, however, hard to see Robert De Niro as a young Marlon Brando - one wonders precisely what happened in the years not shown!

The veneer of politeness overlying the thuggish business is well-handled, and it's when Coppola mixes images of civilization and savagery, as at the ends of both I and III, that the films really hit the mark. In nine hours of material, there's certainly enough to make it a meal worth eating, but I'm not so certain every mouthful is strictly necessary.


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