Four Filmmaking Lessons from The Godfather’s Infamous Restaurant Scene

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It’s one of the most famous scenes in cinema history. Michael Corleone, the son of a Mafia don, commits his first act of bravery as a gangster hopeful by killing two men who present a threat to his family’s stability. The scene? An Italian restaurant in the Bronx. The location of the gun? Behind the toilet. The film? Francis Ford Coppola‘s ‘The Godfather,’ one of the most popular movies ever made.

A young filmmaker might be tempted to ignore this film in favor of more recent gems, but bearing down on the internal structure of this scene, taking a close look at what makes it tick, can be the equivalent of either many hours of film school or many more hours spent watching the movies that came in its substantial wake. The scene has a number of building blocks that, given Coppola’s masterful deployment, make the restaurant scene an unforgettable and withering sequence about character growth, survival, and the dread that lies beneath each phenomenon; Patryk Czekalski takes us through the scene in this excellently plotted video essay.

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