It’s been forty-three years since Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s ground breaking crime novel, The Godfather, hit cinemas and introduced the world to the Corleone family. While most films are likely to fade into obscurity in that time, The Godfather faced those odds and like Sonny Corleone to an FBI agent, spat on the ground at their feet.
With the likes of Marlon Brando and Al Pacino in the title roles, Coppola directing and the acclaimed Nino Rota Rinaldi composing what came to be known as one of the most recognised soundtracks of all time, The Godfather clearly isn’t like most films.
So celebrated is this film that on top of its three Academy Awards, it has been running at the Royal Albert Hall with its entire score performed live by the famed Philharmonia Orchestra. On Monday 2nd November, they did just that.
Led by Justin Freer, the orchestra tackled the nearly three-hour-long film with such expertise that you’d be forgiven for forgetting that a live orchestra was even in the room. Intense yet never overpowering, the music surprisingly never dominated the film.
Anyone who’s ever been to the Royal Albert Hall has been impressed by the elegance of one of the world’s most famous concert halls. What you also probably noticed is that the Royal Albert Hall is in no way comparable to the super, mega, ear drum rupturing extreme cinemas advertised at your local Vue or Odeon and don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the fact.
That being said, if someone were looking for a complaint to put on this production, it would be that at times, and at no fault of the orchestra, the dialogue was more or less indecipherable.
While you’d be strained to make out the words trying to escape Marlon Brando’s cotton ball crammed cheeks even in an ideal cinema, the sound quality of the speakers piping out the film’s dialogue, or lack thereof caused the audience to miss some of the film’s most memorable lines, which although probably unavoidable, was a bit of a shame. Luckily however, “leave the gun, take the cannoli’s” still range true.
To be fair, nobody paid £45 or more a ticket just to watch The Godfather one more time. They were there to experience a brilliant orchestra perform one of the greatest film soundtracks of all time, with a glass of Italian red in hand and tension so palpable that the shared experience of witnessing a gruesome mob hit became a delicious drug all on its own.
Words by Cais