Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Godfather

The Godfather is an interesting read, even if you've already seen the movies. It covers the same basic ground as the original film and the De Niro flashbacks from Part II, while filling in a ton of background detail that makes the story clearer and more fleshed out. Puzo and Coppola's screenplays weren't exactly lacking in content, but reading the actual novel was certainly a worthwhile companion experience to the films. Even if it invalidates parts of the third movie.

So the story follows the same basic structure as the first movie, and it's divided into nine "books", each a different section of the plot. The first one is easily the longest, but after that the characters drift apart a bit and the books tend to focus on one in particular. The biggest parts that were left out of the films are significant subplots involving Johnny Fontane and Lucy Mancini, the Frank Sinatra stand-in who needs the Godfather's help to save his career and the maid of honor that Sonny spends time with at his sister's wedding. These parts are more mundane than the crime and violence of the main plot, but really no less well written, and really bring a bit of humanity to the book.

Time is even spent giving backstories to characters whose only roles in the film were either to kill someone or get killed in a single scene without saying a word. It all adds up to making the world of the book seem bigger than in the films. I'm not saying one should necessarily replace the other, because the drama of seeing something on the screen can be greater than reading it on the page, and they remain some of the best made movies ever. They compliment each other well, and the movie really has everything you need to understand it, the book just gives it all a little more significance. It's also pretty easy to read, descriptive without being overly flowery, although the timeline did get a little muddled in a couple places. Still, the story was quite understandable, and it's a good one at that.

No comments: