A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Godfather is the classic, genre-defining Mafia movie in which Marlon Brando plays the titular character facing grave threats from rival families. Unsurprisingly, there's constant violence. Characters are shot and killed, often at close range in graphic scenes. Characters are strangled to death and die in car explosions. Domestic abuse is shown: A man beats his wife with a belt. In one of many iconic scenes, a movie executive wakes up covered in blood, with a decapitated horse's head in his bed. In the opening scene, a man asks Don Corleone for vengeance after two men raped and beat his daughter. Ethnic and racial slurs are heard, as well as some profanity, including the "N" word. The movie also has cigarette smoking, wine drinking, and brief nudity (female breasts), and characters are shown having sex, clothed but audible. There are some references made to the sexual behaviors of Sonny and Fredo.
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What's the story?
The Godfather follows the Corleone family and their rapidly multiplying troubles. Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) is on his way out, and the most promising potential heir is his handsome, war-hero son, Michael (Al Pacino). As family members cope with the trials of gangster life, the latent power structures of society and family become evident.
Is it any good?
Epic in scope while maintaining a patience and intimacy characteristic of European art cinema, THE GODFATHER is rightly considered one of the greatest films ever made. The Godfather continues to influence producers of films, television shows, and video games more than 40 years after its release. Nino Rota's score, the sumptuous set design, and Brando's raspy pseudo-whisper have become part of our collective cultural memory.
The film possesses an operatic quality, yet it's more understated than it is flamboyant. It takes its subjects seriously, bestowing legitimacy upon the internecine power struggles of the Mafia normally reserved for classical themes in high art. The film's release initiated a period when American filmmakers dared to take themselves and their artistic ambitions seriously (perhaps too seriously). There's something deeply resonant in the film's treatment of filial piety, the need for respect, and our culture's abiding interest in the parallel moral universe of the Mafia.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about classic movies. The Godfather is considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time. What makes a movie not only great, but a classic? How do you think it set the standard for the Mafia movies and television shows to come?
How does the violence in the movie serve to show what these characters are capable of in order to get what they want?
How does the movie explore hypocrisy, not only among the Corleones, but in society as a whole?
What makes this movie a classic?
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