"The Godfather", half a century of inspiring and revolutionizing cinema

The film "The Godfather" by director Francis Ford Coppola goes beyond the idea of good and evil as absolute values. It inserts a form of violence that had not been seen in cinema until then. Exhibited for the first time on March 15, 1972, it transformed the way films were distributed and released.

"The Godfather", half a century of inspiring and revolutionizing cinema
The Godfather 50 Years

"Italians think that the world is so hard that you need to have two fathers, that's why everyone has a godfather," is how Michael Corleone, one of the characters in the film that has inspired and revolutionized the film industry and art, says Edgar Adrián Mora Bautista, writer, and contributor to "Cinemaedro" on Prisma RU, Radio UNAM.

"The Godfather" (The Godfather) is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its premiere in the United States, which took place on March 15, 1972. The feature film and its sequel are of fundamental importance for the history of the seventh art. It revolutionized the vision that was held in American cinema for the industry or the separation of the industry and art.

The film arose in a specific period of change, where elements such as the idea of the filmmaker as an author and the confrontation between what is called the "old" and the "new Hollywood" appeared, with former studio films where a "Star System" functioned in an efficient but uniform manner.

There was also the arrival of directors influenced by European cinema, particularly Italian, French, neo-realism, and the Nouvelle Vague, who promoted a new way of conceiving filmmaking.

There was a rejection of authority (inside and outside the film), the so-called Hays Code -Motion Picture Production Code, a film production code that determined in American films, with a series of restrictive rules, what could be seen on screen and what could not-, began to crumble and cease to be that guideline that put them in a corset until before the 1970s.

It's the time of the Vietnam War, the hangover, the civil rights struggle, a distrust of the system permeates, and the feminist movements begin. Therefore, there is a specific cultural environment that allows the emergence of this type of film that goes down in history and generates a revolution. The film by director Francis Ford Coppola transformed the way of distribution and exhibition for the first time.

Before the film was released in two or three theaters and from there, as the weeks went by and they gained an audience, the number of theaters assigned to them was extended. As of The Godfather, in its second week of the exhibition, there will be a national premiere and this will also have an impact on the distribution policies of the films.

Audiovisual archetype

Mora Bautista explains that it is one of the few historical productions that have the consensus of the average spectator and critic: it is a great work.

"Because its characters are multidimensional, and that impacts the viewer, it is what transforms the perception and reception of its cinematic messages. An example is the generation of sympathy in the antihero; that is, the film goes beyond the idea of good and evil as absolute values," he says.

The public sees the mafioso who lives off crime, whose livelihood is questioned, also as a character with a hint of authority and justice.

"Vito Corleone became an audiovisual archetype to refer to the mafioso. When someone plays one in the movies, even as a parody, there is this idea of the husky voice, of cadence when speaking, which is a way of identifying the idea of leadership within the mafia. It is an archetype that has had many subsequent derivations," he points out.

For the professor of History at the Universidad Iberoamericana, "it is one of the great stories of cinematography and that exempts it from any temporal reference, inserts a form of violence that had not been seen in cinema until that moment; it will make the viewer feel very close to what is being told. It is epic."