The 1972 film The Godfather directed by Francis Ford Coppolla based on the novel by Mario Puzo that takes one inside the world of the Mafia as shown in the Corleone family where its patriarch, Don Vito is the “Godfather” but later, the focus of the film would later on shift to his son Michael who at first was not part of the Mafia family, but later on gradually joined it until he became the Godfather. The rise of Michael Corleone from being a “civilian” to Godfather is made possible by a well-coordinated cinematography which also involves editing.
Editing is a film technique where reels of film are subjected to “cut and paste” in order to weave the scenes into a seamless sequences of events that unfold the moment it hits the silver screen. In this film, the producers make use the continuous editing technique. This approach is employed for the purpose of maintaining continuous or clear narrative action. It begins with the scene when Michael arrives at his sister Connie’s wedding reception which is presided by their father Don Vito.
This scene shows that Michael is not part of the other “family” his father leads as depicted by him dressed in a military uniform which showed he came from the war. The next scene would be the attempted “hit” (murder) of Don Vito in the market and a separate scene where Michael’s older brother Sonny was killed. This is followed by the scene where he was mauled by corrupt police officers and another where he is handed a gun by his father’s mafiosi which he would use in a later scene to kill McCluskey, one of the corrupt cops and his father’s rival Sollozzo.
His brother’s death and later his father, has thrust him into becoming the head of the “Family” which is underscored by scenes showing the “hits” on rival mafia leaders while serving as the godfather of his sister’s son. This is capped with the final scene where he closed the door to his study as he is about to preside over a “family” meeting with his second wife Kay standing by the doorway. These shots were cut and pasted in a way that it follows a progressive sequence.
The seamlessness of the scenes shows rhythm in the editing and the intervals were either minimal or eliminated thereby preserving the momentum on focusing on Michael. The film also makes use of eye-line matches where the audience sees things initially from Don Vito’s perspective, at the beginning and switching to Michael, as it is shown in numerous scenes especially his confrontation with Sollozzo and switches to his wife as shown in the final scene when the door to Michael’s office closes with her looking on which underscored that Michael chose his other “family” thereby sealing his fate.
The baptism scene shows the application of the temporal relationships as it is interspersed with the deaths of rival mafiosi, indicating what was happening at the same time. In conclusion, the use of (continuous) editing helped make the story of The Godfather easy to understand and to appreciate totally as it shows a seamless stringing of scenes that show the rise of Michael Corleone to power. Reference Coppolla, F. F. (Director). (1972). The Godfather [Motion Picture].
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