"The Godfather" is an iconic film that was released in 1972. Directed and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola, this epic work of art won three Academy Awards. It was also a launching pad to stardom for several actors, most notably Al Pacino. This formal analysis will discuss in detail the picture's popular baptism scene; explain the editing technique, symbolism and various other film elements present but frequently overlooked. An understanding of the common terms and methods used in filmmaking will enable the recreational moviegoer to enhance their experience tenfold. .
Parallel editing is the cinematic act of cutting between actions taking place in multiple locations so as to imply they are actually occurring at the same time. Coppola uses this throughout his Godfather trilogy and the baptism scene is a perfect example. A montage in film is a type of parallel editing where a series of scenes are joined together to signify the passage of time. As the child is being baptized, we as an audience are frequently shown clips of Mafia hits ordered by Michael himself. Throughout the montage, Coppola mirrors the shot proximity between the church and murders. For example, a close-up of Michael in the church would immediately be paired with an equal close up of the killings. Character actions are also mirrored. This helps maintain flow and cinematographic consistency. The priest continues to speak scripture over these scenes and by the use of montage editing we can now see two distinct sides of Michael. The Christian father figure he is now becoming, and the ruthless Mafia killer that also occupies a decent percentage of his soul. .
Juxtaposition in film is the arrangement of two opposing ideas, characters or objects side-by-side to contrast the two and make their differences crystal clear. Coppola is quite fond of this method and it can be found in all three of the Godfather films. In "The Godfather", the juxtaposition of the church shot with the many murder shots is quite necessary in conveying the monumental change of Michael.