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The Godfather as Art

Why I love “The Godfather” (movie and novel) in terms of aesthetic enjoyment.

The medium of art that I find most appealing is film. Within this medium, my favorite film is The Godfather adapted by Francis Ford Coppola from the novel by Mario Puzo. I find this piece of art valuable for many reasons, though my reasons don’t necessarily fit all of the aesthetic criteria given in our readings.

            To me, The Godfather, defies most of the aesthetic criteria given in our first reading, but still remains one of the greatest works of film art of the 20th century. This film, in my mind, only fits into the two categories: I find the film enjoyable because of its technical ability and its enjoyability. This film, about an Italian crime family in the ‘40s, does not portray the artists (director and author) feelings, moral or life lessons, harmony, beauty, and does not offer insight into reality. This film proves that there is not a universal aesthetics criterion. What one considers being aesthetically pleasing is completely subjective and varies based on the individual. The reading states, “the issue of an artist’s skill has not been a central one in the history of philosophical aesthetics,” this film could not have been as enjoyable if the author, director, and the actors didn’t put their utmost effort into it. My own criteria for art focuses mostly on technical ability and whether or not I enjoy the piece of art.

            While I find The Godfather pleasing for its technical ability and enjoyment, I derive its value from the time period and the author’s writing style and ability. I find this film valuable because of the author’s skill in making the viewer fall in love with “the bad guys”; the author and director’s technical ability in framing perspective makes this movie and book very valuable to me. Interestingly enough, I do not find the film or novel valuable because it conveys a moral or life lesson, but because it makes the viewer question their preconceived notions about criminals and right and wrong. This unconventional perspective is also a sign of originality; as Alfred Lessing argues, “They [artists] see to produce original works of beauty. When they succeed in achieving this originality we call their works great not only because they are beautiful but because they have also unlocked unknown and unexplored realms of beauty,” (pg. 421). The author and director of the Godfather unlocked an unknown view of the world and family while the characters still remain members of a crime syndicate. This mastery of perspective and originality render this film as a work of art.

            Ultimately, what I consider to be art does not fit the criteria of what society considers to be art. Aside from The Godfather being my favorite movie and one of my favorite books, I chose to write about it because it is widely considered one of the greatest films of the 20th century. It is widely praised and adored, yet it defies much of the criteria for what makes art; this, at least to me, is proof that there is no universal criterion for what is considered art and aesthetics is completely and utterly subjective.

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