The first part of Francis Ford Coppola's multi-Oscar® winning Godfather trilogy, adapted from Mario Puzo's novel examining the workings of the Mafia from the perspective of one family, is (along with the sequel) Hollywood's greatest cinematic achievement since the Second World War.
With a cast of relative unknowns at the time: Al Pacino (Godfather part II & III, Scarface, Heat, Carlito's Way, Donnie Brasco), James Caan (Mickey Blue Eyes, Misery), Robert Duvall (Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now) and Diane Keaton (Manhattan, Annie Hall) and a known risk: Marlon Brando (A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront), Coppola managed to construct a masterpiece that perfectly depicted the Mafia lifestyle without glamorising it. The rise of the young Michael Corleone, who is slowly forced to take control of the 'family business', is a powerful and terrifying study of moral decay, political corruption and the breakdown of the family unit. Pacino gives a performance that literally sucks the audience in and slowly reveals the personal horror of the American-dream gone bad.
From the opening wedding scene to a severed horse's head in a Hollywood movie-mogul's bed and exile in peasant Sicily, the arc of the film is as grand, beautiful and dramatic as an opera. The exquisitely designed scenes, haunting musical score and superlative cast cement The Godfather in film history as one of the greatest films ever made.
For evident reason, The Godfather won several awards including three Oscars® for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Actor (Marlon Brando), nominated for 8 more; one BAFTA®, nominated for four more; and five Golden Globes, nominated for two more.