Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Godfather Part III

Flickchart came across my radar (via Metafilter) last week and has instantly become a major time suck, but in a good way. The basic concept is this: You are presented with two movies and asked which one you would rather watch (if you haven't seen one or both of them, it allows you to discard the title for a new one). And then you pick from another two films. And another. And so on. You quickly create a list of (a) which movies you have seen and (b) you're ranking of them.

As I said, a tremendous time suck. As of this posting, I personally have made 3100 of these either/or decisions and in the process listed 633 movies that I have seen. And according to their computations, that group of movies constitutes 49 days, 11 hours, 33 minutes spent watching them. Either you're someone who is impressed or depressed by such calculations. Count me in the former.

One thing you might notice from those numbers is the huge discrepancy between number of movies and number of rankings. This is because each ranking doesn't come up with new titles every time. If they did, they couldn't compare with the other decisions. A logical process, but it means that movies you have zero interest in seeing again will pop up over and over and force you to choose something over it... until you come across one that's just as bad and you have to make a decision (cough Alien Resurrection vs. X-Men Origins: Wolverine cough).

But then it also allows you to reconsider some titles that fall in the middle between brilliant and awful, and that leads me to The Godfather Part III (Spoiler Alert).

For me, Godfather III ranks currently at 238 out of 633, which isn't bad. I have only seen it the once, but I have pleasant memories of it and would definitely be up for watching it again when given the choice between it and, say, Vacancy (currently at 430 and dropping like a stone). The most indelible memory I have of Godfather III is the very last shot:

When the movie first came out, the one critic's comment I remember reading (apart from all the scorn heaped on Sofia Coppola's performance) was how Michael's death in the last scene seemed more appropriate for a Monty Python sketch than the conclusion of the greatest American Crime saga ever put to film.

Being a Python geek in addition to a film geek, I know the exact sketch that critic was referring to. But that's beside the point. The scene is as follows: The elderly Michael Corleone, perhaps permanently crippled from the stroke he suffered in front of the theatre, is seated in a chair in what appears to be a courtyard back in Italy. It is a long shot and we cannot see his face. As the final ascending notes of that familiar tune play, Michael tips over in his chair and (we presume) dies.

The greatest American Crime saga's protagonist, whom we have seen grow over three incredible films, who has been studied and talked about by film scholars and movie buffs over so many years, who reached so much power and influence during his reign, just died suddenly and alone.

There is an incredible sadness there. His father could at least say that he died playing with his grandson and assured that his empire was in the capable hands of his favorite son. Michael has no such compensation.

One could argue this was the karmic debt Michael owed, and one would have a point. It doesn't make it any less tragic, though. It's a fitting end to such a wonderful tale.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just watched the movie a second time. That was for me also the most memorable part, although for years, about 2 decades in fact, my memory of it had blurred, and I always thought of the camera at Michael Corleone's back when he tipped to the side, left.