Tuesday 5 April 2011

Old favourites

I watched a couple of favourites on the weekend in The Godfather and Gattaca. Francis Ford Coppola’s mafia classic of such renown now, it’s difficult to imagine the trouble involved in making the film, from assembling the cast - for example, the studio didn’t want Marlon Brando - or even hiring a director; Coppola wasn’t first choice and was constantly on the verge of being fired. I’ve read that when asked he at first refused for fear of glamorising organised crime, but was won over when he thought of making it a metaphor for capitalism; funny because whilst I’ve never noted the metaphor, I’m aware of the criticism. I’d always assumed this was the reason for a change in tone between it and the sequel which followed a couple of years later; both films end with a settling of scores, but the latter contains no sense of triumphalism.

These two films (a third was made 16 years later) have been treated dreadfully on television. I remember on one occasion they were spliced up (part two contains story lines set before and after the events in part one) and shown in chronological order as a mini-series; worse and somewhat bizarrely, it was dubbed to remove the language that so offends, whilst maintaining the violence. Nowadays I notice the frayed edges; the blood isn’t the colour of blood, and there’s a noticeably phony fight scene between Sonny and his brother-in-law, Carlo; but these are minor details, even if you do see Brando as hamming it up, the story wins through. It’s always the story.

Gattaca suffers from this same nit-picking. Science fiction (if it can be labelled as such) often will; this time I found the the romantic subplot ropey, and the murder more MacGuffin than of any interest. In the past, when asked I would always list three films; Un Coeur en Hiver, The Elephant Man and Gattaca. And despite any faults, Gattaca would remain as its feel, particularly for the future - with an increasing ability to alter our DNA and ever insistent demands for a database - is truer today than when I first saw it all those years ago. I wonder, when it happens, if we’ll still have the self-awareness to realise what we’ve done - and whether it would be better if we didn’t?


  1. Dubbed to remove the language...whilst maintaining the violence.
    ain't THAT typical ??
    (Here in U.S. on A & E channel, they run episodes of "The Sopranos" and dub out the F-word and they use that word so much on that show, that the end result after this editing is, the "Sopranos" and their colleagues sound like they all have speech impediments...