The Godfather – Francis Ford Coppola – Movie Outline

Movie Analysis - The Godfather
PDF, 89 pages

This page is an abstract from our full analysis of The Godfather, one of the most appreciated movies ever and a masterwork of scriptwriting.

Media and genre

Feature-length film of 176 minutes (2h56), released in 1972, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather mixes a variety of different genres: gangster story, drama, family epic, tragedy, with elements of period drama, action movie, and romance.

The script written by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo adapts the eponymous novel by Mario Puzo that quickly became a best-seller after its release in 1969. This script is 120 pages (so, less than one page of script for one minute of movie).

Production and reception

Produced by Paramount, mainly shot in New York and Sicily from the 29th of March 1971 to the 6th of August 1971.

Despite many production problems, the movie became one of the most critical and commercial successes of all time. Produced for an amount of 6 millions dollars, it made 268 million dollars during the next 40 years (statistics: 2012)… It won an Oscar for the best film, best adaptation and best actor (Brando) and was nominated 7 additional times.

The Godfather has remained one ot the most critically-acclaimed movies in cinema. According to audiences: on IMDB, the film is ranked n°2 of all the movies of all times, with a mark of 9.2/10, amongst a survey of more than 560,000 votes. Where The Godfather II is ranked 3rd with a mark of 9/10.


Apart from Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, the movie showcases talents such as James Caan, Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton.

Coppola gave supporting roles to his own sister Talia Shire (Connie Corleone, Vito’s daughter), to his mother Italia Coppola (Vito’s wife, Sonny-Fredo-Michael’s mother) and even to his daughter Sofia Coppola who, as a baby, plays Michael’s nephew in the final baptism. The film really is a true family story.

The story

The Godfather showcases the dynastic transition from around 1945 to around 1955 amongst a family of Italian gangsters (interestingly enough, the term “Mafia” is never mentioned). The family is part of a cartel of five families who oversee a series of illegal business activities in New York City.

The story opens with the reign of the aging patriarch Vito Corleone, also known as “The Don”, who will soon face the opposition of rival families for refusing to support their traffic of heroin. The story then tells the fight of the Corleone clan against the alliance Sollozzo/Tattaglia/Barzini. It focuses in on the reign of Vito’s younger son Michael who sits at the periphery but finds himself thrust to the head of the family business when his father is shot.

Other side plots detail the secondary aspects of the Corleone family’s life, particularly those of Michael.

Did you enjoy it? Want to know more? Then read the full script analysis of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather and improve your scriptwriting skills