The late Roger Ebert once wrote that The Godfather is the one film almost everyone agrees about. By all accounts and according to every criteria of success in Hollywood, director Francis Ford Coppola’s universally acclaimed gangster chronicle is nothing short of an enduring cultural phenomenon. In the wake of the 50th anniversary of the first movie, let’s take a look back into everything that is The Godfather.
Casting was one of the reasons why The Godfather achieved record-breaking success. The movie included stars-in-the-making Al Pacino and Robert Duvall, the then-unknown Abe Vigoda, and of course, the don himself, Marlon Brandon. At 47, Brando was hardly old enough to play a family patriarch and was a rather youthful choice for a formidable character like Don Vito Corleone. However, his screen presence and power-packed performance helped to make the character an icon. Al Pachino, in his role of the reluctant hero Michael Corleone, perfected the transition of the character from being considerably meek to incredibly ruthless.
The Godfather has deservingly gone down in history as an example of one of the best productions of Hollywood ever. It was an outright studio movie, as Paramount Pictures bought the rights to the original novel from Mario Puzo even before it became a bestselling sensation. Ironically, the studio selected a young director, Coppola, to make a cheap and budgeted adaptation of the novel. Thankfully, The Godfather turned out to be far more than that, mostly because Coppola stood stern on certain filmmaking choices. From the setting of the movie to casting Brando, from Nino Rota’s timeless score to stylistically astute camerawork, Coppola took all the decisions ignoring the disapproval of the studio. Yet he remains the one, to whom the studio, as well as Hollywood, still owe their gratitude for creating the legendary film.
Ancient Rome Was Incredibly Massive and Surprisingly Mobile
It’s no mystery that the countries we live in today are not of the same size as they were in ancient atlases. But what we often overlook or can’t fathom is that those ancient lands were much larger, almost double the sizes of today. This has been very true in the case of Rome. While modern transport considerably cuts short travel duration across the globe, back then even the fastest transport between the capital of the ancient Roman Empire and any of its largest cities used to take at least two weeks. This long-distance travel is enough to give us an idea of how big ancient Rome was.
The Imperial Era
During the height of the reign of Emperor Trajan in 117 CE, the Roman Empire stretched from the northern part of England to the east of the Mediterranean, right down through Mesopotamia to the Persian Gulf. The total area of the empire measured about 5,000,000 km. During 118 – 138 CE, the ruler of Rome was Emperor Hadrian, the successor of Trajan. During his dynasty, Rome became even larger, stretching from Britain in the west to southwest Asia, and from today’s Netherlands in the north down to Egypt in the south. Though, these gains of extra territory were short-lived.
The Mobility of the Region
You’d be mistaken to think that the vastness of ancient Rome and the absence of a modern transport system barred the common people from traveling from one place to another. Instead, the economic and socio-cultural study of imperial Rome reveals that the numerous people inhabiting the large region were not isolated from each other. The Roman Empire possessed an incredibly developed roadway infrastructure, river ferries, harbors, and ports along the Mediterranean coast. Though primarily intended for military functions, all these transportation channels were made available for civilian use, facilitating easier mobility within and beyond the vastness of ancient Rome.