One would think that a story about the Mafia would be violent and ugly, but Francis Ford Coppola's film, The Godfather, is simply beautiful, and the musical composition by Nino Rota is unforgettable and deeply moving.
The movie and the music are forever linked even if you (can) forget the story and the actors. The theme music plays in the film to show the passage of time; a change in a character's circumstances; or to bring out unspoken emotions.
And this is what remains in the music even after you take away the film: emotions that heave and swell but are too many and too complex to put into words; emotions that are universal and yet, personal. The music plays your own particular heart's melody when you listen to it: your love, your youth, your family, and the unfairness and the irresistibility of life.
I cannot say that the music might have spoken this to me if I had not watched the movie. Mario Puzo's book did not move me the way the film did. After reading the book I did want to watch the movie--I was impressed enough with the book for that--but I wasn't able to until recently. Frankly, I didn't try too hard to watch the movie because whenever I happened to see it on TV I always saw Marlon Brando or someone else sitting huge and silent, and I thought the movie must not be much like the book, which was full of action.
After watching the movies (all three parts) I'm amused at that earlier opinion of mine, especially since Brando plays a much smaller role than Al Pacino, whom, incidentally I did not recognise in the first Godfather. I did wonder who the awfully attractive actor playing Michael Corleone was, but I realised only when his name was one of those that flashed alone, importantly, at the end of the film. I didn't recognise Robert De Niro or Diane Keaton either because they were all so young in it--well, what was I thinking; the film was released the year I was born.
Part I of the movie covers what is in Puzo's book but I enjoyed the extended story in the second and third parts almost as much the first. Other people obviously thought similarly: just as Part I did in '72, The Godfather II, also, got an Academy Award for Best Picture in 1974--a distinguished honour since this, I believe, was the first ever sequel to win the Best Picture award.
Yesterday evening, dancing to the Godfather theme music with my cheek against my baby daughter's, I was once again drawn into the whirlpool that the tune evokes.
I went through my little girl's life: her growing up into a young lady, what she will want to do, who she'll want to be; what kind of a man she'll marry, whether he would ever be able to love her the way I do, be able to keep her the way she deserves--like a princess; and the music drew me into the time beyond my own. I saw how a hundred years could fly by like a gust of wind, carrying its particles--us--into an unknown eternity, and life will still just go on...