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In celebration of this year’s Academy Awards, the Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT) in Belfast hosted a special screening of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 hit film ‘The Godfather‘. The screening was in partnership with Jameson Irish Whiskey, and offered audiences the opportunity to relive, or experience for the first time, this Oscar-winning film on the big screen.
The Godfather, featuring an all-star cast headlined by Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, was a low-budget production which upon its initial release went on to take in close to $300,000,000 at the box office worldwide, as well as to win Academy Awards for Best Actor (Brando), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Drama.
Therefore, it was no surprise that the film was included in the QFT’s “series of special themed film experience events celebrating cult classics from a range of different genres“, or that Domino’s Pizza joined forces with the organisers to make this event more than just a typical trip to the cinema.
For this event, the QFT was transformed with a projected image of Brando in character hanging in the middle of the foyer. Audience members were treated to a special pre-show warm-up, during which they could pose with plastic top hats and novelty moustaches, but it wasn’t long before the film theatre was packed with eager fans waiting for the curtain to go up.
Only one woman admitted to being a first-time viewer of ‘The Godfather’, however, her admission garnered her nothing but envy from the speaker who introduced the film, while a prize raffle brought some extra entertainment value to the screening as various audience members won prizes ranging from tickets to future QFT/Jameson events, to a bottle of Jameson whiskey, and to a limited-edition artwork print of The Godfather, which was clearly the most sought-after item judging from the crowd’s disappointed groans when the winner was announced.
As for the film itself, there were no signs of fatigue or boredom from the dozens of people who had already seen the film countless times. In fact, iconic moments such as Hollywood producer Jack Woltz finding his horse’s decapitated head in bed with him received exactly the kind of mixed horror and amusement that one would have expected to hear from an audience during the film’s original theatrical run thirty-eight years ago.
It is a testament to the timelessness of this film that the audience was still engaged and responsive by the time the last scene faded to black well after 1a.m. The sold-out screening reflected the public’s eagerness to support the QFT and Belfast’s local film community, with the film’s introductory speaker noting that the QFT was the only film theatre in the city to offer screenings of ‘The Artist’ – a film widely tipped to win Best Picture at this weekend’s Academy Awards – and other critically-acclaimed films which often elude mainstream attention.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the night was that it managed to be such a success, especially at the price of £10 per ticket for a film which many can watch on DVD in the comfort of their own homes. Attendee Danielle Lavery put things into perspective by explaining that while she knew the film “inside-out”, there was something unique about viewing the film on the big-screen, the way it was originally intended and the way that The Godfather first made its indelible cultural mark on audiences around the world.