Friday 8 July 2011

The Godfather Part III [1990]

The Godfather Part III was the final chapter in Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather trilogy. Though it undoubtedly pales in comparison to the towering brilliance of the first two films in the trilogy, it still stands as a good film that brought the epic saga to a satisfactory and meaningful conclusion. Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), now an ageing patriarch of the immensely powerful Corleone family, is on one hand trying his best to keep his promise to his former wife by making the family business fully legit, while at the same time completely being engulfed by an overarching sense of deep guilt over his various acts of crime and violence - especially that of his brother Fredo’s cold blooded execution. The film therefore was as much about keeping up with a new series of antagonists, particularly the cocky celebrity-gangster Joey Zaza and the smooth-talking and back-stabbing Don Altobello (Eli Wallach), as it was about Michael’s poignant reminiscing of his life that could have been and his futile attempts at redemption and peace of mind. The film is a tad uneven at parts. Its performances too are mixed – while Eli Wallach and Andy Garcia (as the illegitimate son of Michael’s long-dead elder brother Andy, and the chosen successor to the clan) were good, Sofia Coppola was a severe disappointment as Michael’s naïve daughter; Al Pacino’s performance too was affecting without ever touching greatness. The film was exceptionally photographed as before, and the final scene, which was both ironic and sad, had a sense of Shakespearean tragedy written on it.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Genre: Crime Drama/Gangster Film/Ensemble Film
Language: English/Sicilian
Country: US


Jon said...

I actually agree with you that although it's uneven and not nearly as good as the previous 2, it's still a good film on it's own merits. I think it undeservedly has taken a lot of criticism over the years.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Jonny. Indeed, that's my point. People tend to brush this film aside just because it followed 2 masterpieces, without so much as giving this film a chance.

Sam Juliano said...

Released stateside the same year as Scorsese's GOODFELLAS, (1990) it's no wonder, Shubhajit, that this film was grossly underestimated, and always seen as a pale trace of the first two American masterpiece, which truth be said it doesn't come anywhere near in artistic merit. Still I do concur with the gist of your argument here, and feel it's largely a most comelling and unforgettable film, narrative uneveness aside. There are some brilliant scenes, the acting is quite good (except for Sophia Coppola, whom you rightly note,who is a rank amateur and unable to bring any conviction to her part. Luckily for her, however (and for Coppola) he has the ravishing "Intermezzo" from Pietro Mascagni's 1890 'verismo' opera "Cavalleria Risticana' to give the picture some serious emotional resonance. of course that majestic piece of music would enhance and elevate any film it complements (it was employed brilliantly in RAGING BULL in the credit sequence) and it's aching elegiac beauty is the perfect aural accompaniment for the Shakespearean grandeur of the film's most wrenching scene, the montage of remembrance when Michael remembers his slain daughter.

In years from now this film will gain in reputation, when the spectre of the first two has settles to allow for a full consideration of this landmark saga of American cinema.

As always you've done your subject exceeding justice here!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a ton Sam for the appreciation and the terrific comment.

Godfather Part III is indeed a heavily undervalued and under-appreciated film. Yes, coming after two of the greatest masterpieces (not just of American cinema, but cinema in general), it is no surprise why this film received so much flak. But, comparisons aside, it does remain a competent work and comprises of few memorable moments.

Great to know that you fully concur with that point of view. I really hope that people start accepting this instead of throwing brickbats at it just because it couldn't live up to the monstrous expectations created by the first two films in the trilogy.

Thanks for bringing up for bringing up the "intermezzo". That certainly was one of the highlights of the movie. And the last scene, where the aged and alone Michael, residing at an empty, dilapidated mansion, falls off his chair, was a really heartbreaking moment.

Thanks again Sam.

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