Film School: The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather (1972) The Godfather (1972)

It’s a miracle this film even exists, much less in the way it does.

For years, my deep love of the film’s dark cinematography overshadowed (heh) one of the other crucial, world-building elements of The Godfather: the work of sound designer (and influential editor) Walter Murch. Nerdwriter examines just How Walter Murch Worldized Film Sound:

And here’s Murch on a revealing editing (and lighting) technique:

Cinematographer Gordon Willis (aka “the prince of darkness”) explains how he designed the film’s iconic look around one thing – making Marlon Brando’s makeup work:

A director in debt; a studio that hated all his casting choices; a pulpy novel adaptation with low expectations… CineFix offers is as good (and short) a summary as any of the bonkers story of The Godfather getting made:

Behind The Curtain discusses the unique note-taking and novel adaptation process that went into How Francis Ford Coppola Wrote The Godfather (plus here’s the original video he samples from):

A sample page of Coppola’s notes on the novel:

The Glass Distortion transposes Coppola’s script (and notes) onto the screen during Solozzo’s Death scene:

StudioBinder breaks down the blocking of the scene where Michael begins to take control of the Family. “Using framing, composition, blocking and a slow, deliberate camera move, we “feel” these power shifts as much as we see them”:

… and follows this up with “a character analysis tracking the Corruption Arc of Michael Corleone”:

Thomas Flight breaks down – and even re-edits – his favourite 15 seconds from The Godfather, which demonstrate how film uniquely “can use moments that would otherwise seem small and insignificant to communicate something very meaningful or even critical to the story”:

Further Viewing

Famously, Brando declined Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, to draw attention to Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans. Sacheen Littlefeather, who declined on his behalf was literally booed for simply communicating the abridged version of Brando’s message:

Say what you will about him as an actor or a human, Brando pointed out #OscarsSoWhite and called out Hollywood’s whitewashing half a century before it became popular – and was ridiculed for it (via The Dick Cavett Show which, as you can discover by browsing its various clips on YouTube, has mostly aged surprisingly well):

The Godfather sound designer Walter Murch is an entire Film Editing School on his own:

And I’ll say it: Part III is better than folks will have you believe.

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