Posted by Chris @ 4:51 PM
Whilst on holiday I had a chance to read The Godfather by Mario Puzo. I'd heard of the film, but had never watched it, let alone read the original book, and knew nothing about the story line, other than it was about the Mafia. Having now read the book and watched the film I'd like to share a few thoughts on each and their differences.
Firstly the book. It was good, and kept me reading right through my holiday. Some of the sub plot towards the end of the book regarding Jonny Fontaine and Nino Valenti out in Hollywood and Las Vegas was a bit tedious, but generally it was well paced, with good character development and plot twists. I recommend you read it.
The film on the other hand was disappointing. And I'm surprised, as I'm sure some of you will be, by that judgement. However, I believe I came to this conclusion because I had read the book. Basically, the film is too slow, the character development is lacking (although I'm aware some of this is in The Godfather Part II) and the whole feel of the film is different to the book. If I hadn't read the book I'd have got lost on the plot, it wasn't made easy to follow. Marlon Brando doesn't do it as the Godfather for me either, although I was impressed with the young Al Pacino as Michael, especially in the second half of the film.
To expand a little bit on why the whole feel of the two are different - the book never mentions the word Mafia, and right from the off it does a very good job of presenting the Corleone family as reasonable upstanding members of the public, demanding respect, but showing respect. Making reasonable offers to people they request favours of, and paying handsomely, etc. It also portrays much better in the book than in the film the people they kill, or intimidate, as bad people who "had it coming". For example, Jack Woltz. In the book it is suggested Waltz is a paedophile, where as in the film there is no suggestion of it. Waltz is simply a hard nosed movie exec, and this makes you sympathise with him more in the film than in the book, and in turn paints the Don in a bad light. Essentially the film is much more overtly Mafia in its style, and really suffers for it. You don't feel any emotion for the family, because you see them as murderers. In the book the motivations are much clearer, the murders justified, and so when major plot twists occur, such as Sonny or Apollina being killed, you feel for the family.
I've rambled a bit here, and I'm not sure I've really got my point across, but if you have seen the film I recommend that you make an effort to read the book, and then let me know what you think! If you are still a Godfather virgin I recommend you read / watch it, because it is a good story, and then let me know what you think!
Dawn's review of the film - "It was pants."