Film Study: The Godfather trilogy or watching all three?
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Film Study: The Godfather trilogy or watching all three?

The question from some of my film study Students is, should we watch the Godfather trilogy customized for television with less violence and language and shown in chronological order or watch the films as they were shown to audiences upon their release?

Master Director Francis Ford Coppola is able to maintain an amazing balance of powerful character driven stories written by Mario Puzo, peppered with the ruthless violence we expect from a gangster film in this multi-generational saga of the rise and fall of the Corleone crime family.  The 10 hour long Godfather trilogy starts in chronological order from 1901-1980.  

However, if you watch it as three separate movies, as I do:

1.The Godfather  2 hr 58 min., 3 Oscars, Best Picture including of course best writing by Mario Puzo and Best Actor Marlon Brando is absolutely spot on.

2.The Godfather part II 3 hr 22 min., 6 Oscars, Best Pic, Director, Writing, Music, Costume and Art Direction.  With well deserved Nominations for the Pacino-De Niro connection. 

3.The Godfather part III  2hr 50 min., 7 Oscar nominations, no wins. 

It runs a little over 9 hours and I believe the story is best told this way.  Flashbacks and all.  

Technically, part 2 is the best film out of the three.  However, these films need each other. Part 2 has the unmistakable air of saga as it moves back and forth through time, juxtaposing Michael's emotional struggle with becoming a don to that of his father's seemingly effortless rise to power. In doing so, Dave and I have spent many hours in discussion of all three films.  Both of us agree, it is not a story of Vito but of his Son Michael.  

The superbly written storylines and amazing performances by the principal actors, including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Diane Keaton, is why PART II is considered a cinematic masterpiece. It's often called the best of the Godfather trilogy. 

Godfather Part 2 tells of the good young Husband and Father Vito, played to perfection by a young Robert De Niro, and his bride beginning their journey as a new American immigrants from  Sicily to a miserable existence in a Hell’s Kitchen tenement.  Vito’s family and fellow immigrants rely on him for protection and survival making him become the Don or Godfather.  Vito cares.  


Michael does not possess the same kind of love for family that his Father did and when eldest Brother is killed it makes Michael next in line to become the new Don.  We get to see a very real side of Michael and the very good side of Al Pacino’s acting chops when he tries his hand at living in the old Country as a Siciliano.

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