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Keith Tse

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Masterpiece

‘The Godfather’ is widely considered as a cinematic masterpiece. Some (myself included) even contend that Parts I and II are two of the greatest films of all time. They are truly remarkable works of art, and I never tire of watching them, even though it has been more than ten years since I first watched them (2004) and have since watched them at least several times per year. Needless to say how amazed I was the first time I watched them, since as a Latin/Romance linguist, I was fascinated by the Roman/Italian cultural aspects of those films, especially the state of the Italian-American heritage in contemporary America, which is artfully explored in Part II. Recently, however, I discovered that the making of Part I was somewhat dramatic and nothing that I had expected. For a film of such quality and scale, one would expect the production to be a happy collaboration between the best and finest artists in the world, and the Godfather franchise did involve some of the greatest actors of all time- Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Lee Strasberg, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, and many others (it must be said though that at the time very few of these actors were well-established figures, with the possible exception of Marlon Brando, though he was going through a dip in his career in the late 60s/early 70s). In a series of interviews with the main players in the production, namely the director Francis Ford Coppola and the lead actor Al Pacino, both of them said that the production of Part I was anything but happy, since the production company (Paramount) was very hostile to them both, especially Pacino as they were dead set against hiring a relatively unknown theatre actor to play the lead in such a momentous movie. They were also against many of the artistic choices made by Coppola, as they disapproved of his decision to cast Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone and, as mentioned, Al Pacino as his son, Michael Corleone. Both Coppola and Pacino even went as far as saying that they would be ridiculed publicly in rehearsals by members of the production team and they were both incredulous that they managed to stay in their jobs since they were certain that they would be dismissed. By a dramatic twist of fate, they managed to complete this movie and the rest is history. It is remarkable that such a tumultuous process ended up creating one of the finest pieces of art ever made, and judging from these testimonies probably neither Coppola nor Pacino (nor anyone involved in the production) anticipated the enormous success and life-changing consequences that ensued. It was truly a pivotal moment in western film-making. I have enormous admiration for Coppola and co for creating such an all-time masterpiece, but after discovering the amount of difficulty they had to go through in order to make this film, I have even more respect for them for their perseverance in achieving their goals and their abidement by their principles even in the most difficult of times. This is an inspirational lesson for us all, since it shows that process and outcome do not necessarily match and the latter cannot be predicted from the former. All that one can do in life is to offer one’s best even in the worst of circumstances and weather the storm as best as one can, since you never know- you may have a masterpiece in the making. It has been a funny week for me, and all that I can say at the end of this week is something that I have asserted all along: Don’t give up.

#success #paradox #movie #masterpiece #godfather #Literature

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© Keith Tse (2015-) 

London, United Kingdom