Friday, December 9, 2016

125. Nino Rota - The Godfather

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The base of power has to be preserved.  The methods to be employed can vary from one family to another depending on the adversary.
They might include displays of wealth and opulence,  superior manners  assented to by subservient behaviour,  violent instincts coupled
with the will to kill, and even acts of generosity, fairness, belligerence and intimidation. The main purpose is to let the opposite party
know or  realise  that this  family  has all it takes  to be  respected,  obeyed,  served  -  and died for (or against).  The core  of it all is
manipulation.  This is the central  theme of the simple trick above.

Say something like, "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."  

Above: the film poster art; below: the soundtrack album cover art.

Film poster art by Laurent Durieux, soundtrack album produced by Tom Mack.
Paramount 1972.

It has been  successfully  argued that no film  has had as much  impact on cinema as  Francis Ford Coppola's  The Godfather.  The 1972
powerhouse  not  only  defined  the  entire  subsequent  genre  of  mob-related  films,  but  remains a brutally  memorable  exhibit  of
dramatic  storytelling  at its most  compelling.  The adaptation  of Mario Puzo's  best-selling and  controversial novel,  accomplished by
Coppola and the  author himself,  was so encapsulating  that it warranted  every minute of its nearly three-hour running time,  leaving
enough room for the longer plot of the second film to expand even further upon the same characters. 

The story of the now famous  trilogy of films follows the progression of the original  New York mafia  families in their efforts to survive
and adapt in the times  from the 1900's to the 1990's,  the first  two films  tackling  the initial threat  posed by the  introduction  of the
drug trade into the traditional operations of these bases of power. The trilogy ultimately defines itself as the story of Michael Corleone,
desperate to retain the Sicilian traditions of his father while moving the family forward into these new, more global avenues of wealth.

His ultimate failure, foreshadowed in his ascension in The Godfather and progressively more shocking in the endings of the two sequels,
guides  the music  of these  films  to a similarly  depressing  end.  Like the films,  the work  of Nino Rota  and Carmine Coppola  for the
soundtracks  is engrained  in the memory of the  mainstream,  defining the  sound of mafia music much  like the  characters.  If you boil
down the plot  elements of The Godfather to their  most basic ingredients,  they would be tradition, love, and fear.  Rota's score for the
film perfectly embodies these three aspects of the story. 

Rota's themes  for the first film are the lasting sounds of the franchise,  played longingly on street corners  around Europe for decades to
follow.  The role of original score in  The Godfather  was held to a minimum by the director,  limiting  the amount of  development that
Rota could explore with his themes.

The  style of  Rota's  work  was  important  in  merging  the  sonic  sensibilities  of Sicily  and  America,  incorporating  the  flair  of solo
instrumentation  native to the  former region  with the larger,  symphonic tone of the latter.  The scenes  directly  connecting the plot to
Sicily are served with a mandolin, accordion, and acoustic bass, sometimes aided by sentimental strings.  Solo trumpet performances are
the bridge between the folk elements of the past and that choral and orchestral development that  dominates the score by its conclusion.

There  are  fewer  fully  symphonic  expressions  of  grandeur in  The Godfather  than The Godfather Part II,  the  latter  addressing  the
romanticism of Vito Corleone's immigration and ascension with a more verbose orchestral heart. Rota uses the entirety of The Godfather
to slowly add layers to his themes  until the final cue,  reflecting the fearful  discovery by  Michael Corleone's wife,  Kay, of her husband's
own ascension, reprises all three of the score's major themes with fully realized, almost religious gravity. Filmtracks, The Godfather

(A) Main Title (The Godfather Waltz) - I Have But One Heart - The Pickup - Connie's Wedding - The Halls of Fear - Sicilian Pastorale

(B) Love Theme from The Godfather - The Godfather Waltz - Apollonia - The New Godfather - The Baptism - The Godfather Finale

"Love Theme from The Godfather" movie clip from googlisme on YouTube.