hmv.com presents… The Best Soundtracks of All Time: The Godfather
With some great in-store offers starting this week on films and on film soundtracks as part our 'Decades' series, every day we'll be picking the best soundtrack, one for every year, starting with 1950 right through to the present day. Today we're up to 1972 and it's the turn of Francs Ford Coppola's classic Mafia tale: The Godfather...
So what’s the film about?
Anyone needing an answer to that question should be ashamed of themselves, but for the uninitiated Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 adaptation of Mario Puzo's novel tells the story of New York's Corleone crime family, believed to based on the real life exploits of notorious Cosa Nostra boss Carlos Gambino.
Marlon Brando turns in a truly iconic performance as Vito Corleone, the head of the family, and the film is the first in a trilogy detailing his assassination attempt and the succession of his youngest son Michael (Al Pacino) to the position of the most powerful Mafia boss in New York.
Is this a score or a soundtrack?
It's a score, most of which is composed by Nino Rota, although it does include a composition by Coppola's father Carmine, as well as a song called 'I Have But One Heart', performed in the film by Al Martino in his role as singer Johnny Fontane.
So what's it like?
Typified by its iconic opening theme, Rota's score takes in a mixture of traditional Sicilian music and big, string-led orchestral numbers that include some mournful, introspective moments as well as the more uplifting sequences, such as the family sing-along session at Connie's wedding.
What does it give the film?
In a word: romance. One of the key criticisms by some of the more conservative arms of the press at the time of the film's release was that it 'glamourised' the violence of the organised crime gangs from Sicily and elsewhere, but it is probably more accurate to say it romanticises aspects of their exploits. Even through all the murder and extortion, there's a strict observance of certain moral and religious codes that makes it possible to really warm to the characters and the score only goes to emphasise this notion.
What’s the best moment?
There are a few; the wedding scene is one of the best moments as its a rare point where all grudges and vendettas are forgotten, with everyone simply enjoying the family get together, but in terms of an iconic musical moment its hard to look past the intro sequence with the opening theme and the slowly outward-zooming shot of the undertaker pleading with Don Corleone to help him exact revenge on his daughter's assailants.
Has it stood the test of time?
Take a holiday in Sicily and you will see buskers performing sections of Rota's score everywhere you go. Sure, they're playing for the tourists, but does it still sound as good today? Absolutely.