4 Things You Can Learn From 'The Godfather' Script

The Godfather script is a thing of beauty. Let's focus on the big picture and take some worldbuilding lessons from it. 

Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola wanted to tell the story of a family in flux. Immigrants living the American dream after the war. But also criminals. To do this, they had to adapt Puzo's best selling book and build a world that most Americans were unfamiliar with and had little to no idea how it worked. 

Today we're going to take a look at the script for The Godfather and talk about how its worldbuilding helped create what some people think is the greatest film ever made. 

Read the Godfather Script here! 

The Godfather's Worldbuilding 

It's hard to imagine, but when this movie came out, Americans were not well-tuned to stories about the mafia. Sure, they had gangster movies, but none were so sprawling and relatable as The Godfather. To sell Americans on the idea of a crime family. work had to be done right away. 

That meant starting on the relatable aspects of the story and pulling in the wild stuff little by little. 

The movie begins on a fabulous speech that shows the world of the immigrant at the time and slowly introduces us to the Don. 

But the real genius of the script is that after this scene we go somewhere everyone understands: a wedding. 

When we get into the wedding it's unlike any wedding we've seen, probably. It's huge. famous people are there, and there are armed guards out front. 

Still, any viewer can relate to seeing the weird uncles, fawning aunts, and what it's like to have to describe your family to someone new. 

Michael works as our narrator as he speaks to Kay. And helps build the crime family from the things we know. 

The perils of living in this world 

The deeper you get into the screenplay the more you know the danger of being a part of this family. Especially as the war between the dons begins. We understand the reach of this family and their influence because the next set is Hollywood. 

The Corleones are famous enough to sit across from movie people, and we quickly learn dangerous enough to get their way. 

We also get to see the role of The Godfather. He has to take care of his kids, but also the people for who he vouched when they were baptized. 

This gradual inkling of their money, power, and violence gives us just enough to keep us on the hook. 

We are basically Kay's point of view. LEarn, as she does, that this world extends past the one we see. 

Michael tries to stay out of it, but blood has been shed. His father is shot. Brother murdered, and his other brother is incompetent. 

Michael isn't standing up to a corrupt cop here, he's standing up to a corrupt police captain. This is the big time. The players are huge names in New York. 

Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Caco0wKytZM

By introducing us through family scenes, we're on the Corleone's side when the shit hits the fan. 

As the violence mounts, we, like Kay, get to escape. But in Michael's point of view. 

At this moment we fully understand the pull of the Corleone name. They can touch California AND Italy. They have global sway. The name is feared. 

The most intense scene in The Godfather 

Let's backtrack a second to really look at the script. 

The most intense scene in the film is when Michael goes to the restaurant to assassinate the corrupt cop and rival family leader. It's a standoff. Look at how tension is built not only in the dialogue, but the action writing on the page. 

Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Emky2L8w_Oc

This is where the world of the movie turns. The rest of the story is about violence, action, and reactions. 

And we are along for the ride now because we're a part of this crime family and their world. 

The final scene in The Godfather 

The last scene in The Godfather makes us reconcile the world we've seen built. 

Again, we're back with Kay as an audience. Michael has made the full transition and she's just realizing it. 

And so are we. 

As an audience, we're finally seeing the consequences of Michael's actions. We've been rooting for him, and now we're seeing him confronted with evil. He was a war hero and the black sheep, now he's a murderer and thief set in his ways. 

As the door closes on us we understand this is no happy ending. 

Because we've come to grips with the world of the story, we know that the only path forward lies in death and violence. That's the world. 

And Kay knows it, too. 

The door is closing on her, on peace, and on feeling safe. 

Yeah, maybe the greatest film of all time. 

What's next? Learn screenplay lessons from The Sopranos

Life is overwhelming, even for mobsters. So, what screenwriting lessons can you take away from "The Sopranos"? 

Click the link to learn more!      

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Your Comment


Godfather is not just a great film, it is a lesson in great filmmaking.
The screenplay establishes everything in the first fifteen minutes and we are inside the world of Corleone's. Every single small scene mattered in the film.
I saw one video on youtube where Francis Ford Coppola tells that he had ripped every page of the book Godfather and had pasted it on a big book and would make copious amounts of notes there.
He said if he had that in his hand, not screenplay, he would still have finished the film.
I love how characters transform in the film, especially of Micheal. Actually, the film was about Micheal only and how a man who wants to run away from his family business is forced by circumstances to become a part of it.
I also loved how the climax was written. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. With intercuts of Micheal's on getting baptized on one side and his enemies getting killed by his people on the other side.
There was life coming to this world on one side and there were lives ending on the other side.
Thanks for the Screenplay. Though I have read the book and also read the screenplay years back, it will still be interesting to read it again.

August 9, 2019 at 5:29PM

Shitiz Srivastava
Film Director/ Screenplay Writer

Absolutely agree. The book and the movie are masterpieces in many ways.

August 11, 2019 at 4:43AM

Eva Trigger


August 10, 2019 at 7:51AM


Thanks for sharing about 4 Things You Can Learn From 'The Godfather' Script. It's really useful for us...

August 10, 2019 at 11:35AM

Emily Romans
Digital Marketing

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August 12, 2019 at 3:12AM


Great Article Thanks

October 7, 2019 at 5:41AM


Thanks for sharing valuable informations it's help me a lot

July 30, 2020 at 11:50PM