The Godfather LIVE Review: An Event You Shouldn’t Refuse to See

While any chance to see the Francis Ford Coppola’s award-winning masterpiece is a great treat, this LIVE presentation of The Godfather by CineConcerts was delightfully augmented by Nino Rota’s classic score being performed on stage by the Hollywood Studio Symphony.

The Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE was buzzing with excitement. Many attendees had their pictures taken in front of the stage before most the musicians were seated. I had a front row seat off to the left side of the theater. As it was set below the stage, my view was limited to a small portion of the orchestra and its conductor Justin Freer, who also serves as the President of CineConcerts, the organization that produced the event. When the first lone trumpet from “Main Title (The Godfather Waltz)” rang out as the opening credits began, many in the crowd started cheering and clapping in appreciation, bringing to mind a rock concert.

The film is still a marvel, dealing with the trials and tribulations of the fictional Corleone crime family as its leader Vito (Marlon Brando) is replaced by his son Michael (Al Pacino). There is never a wasted moment as each scene captivates and is essential in moving the story along. Writer/director Coppola, the impressive cast, and cinematographer Gordon Willis are all delivering not only the best work of all their careers but some of the best in the entire history of cinema.

Unfortunately, the sound mix for the event wasn’t balanced well. For example as Carmine Coppola’s music played during “Connie’s Wedding,” some of the dialogue was drowned out. There was also an issue with the subtitles. When Italian was spoken during the wedding and between Michael and Virgil Sollozzo during their meeting at a restaurant, no subtitles appeared on screen. The actors were able to convey the mood of the scene, but it wasn’t entirely clear since I had no idea what they were saying.

At the conclusion of the aforementioned restaurant scene, there was an Intermission. There’s not one in the film, but the moment it occurred was well chosen because it happened at a natural break in the story. I moved back to the cheap seats, which were barely filled, so I could get a better view of the orchestra and the screen. It also allowed me to see the screens on the sides of the stage. The main one over the orchestra was brighter but the color skewed red, most notably seen in the actors’ skin tones. The dimensions on the side were closer to a square so they lost a little bit of visual information. When the movie continued, Michael had gone into hiding in Italy. Thankfully, the subtitles began appearing.

Technical issues aside (and ignoring all the jerks that snapped pictures and recorded video with their devices who I wanted to beat like Sonny beat Carlo), The Godfather LIVE is a wonderful way to see this classic film and helps draw attention to Nino Rota’s amazing soundtrack. More showings are scheduled in North America and Europe throughout 2015.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site.

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