• Film

The Godfather Live at the Dolby Theater

After fifty years of non-stop praise and film history case study, The Godfather: Part I, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 masterpiece about family patriarch Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is as young and looks as great as ever.  We were reminded of its overall importance by a special screening at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, with the Golden Globe and Academy award-winning Nino Rota’s score played live by a 60-piece orchestra of LA’s most talented orchestral musicians, conducted by Scott Terrell. “The Godfather Live” event will be repeated in Chicago at 8 pm at the Auditorium Theatre on November 12, 2022with the Chicago Philharmonic under the baton of John Jesensky.

Nino Rota (1911-1979), was considered one of the greatest film composers of all time, having composed over 150 scores for Italian and international directors. He was mostly known for his collaborations with Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti, earned a Golden Globe in 1972 for the score of The Godfather Part I, and an Academy Award for Part II (shared with Carmine Coppola) in 1974. Rota was also nominated for a Golden Globe in 1969 for his score of Franco Zeffirelli‘s Romeo and Juliet.

The Los Angeles and Chicago live events were produced by Italian Massimo Gullotta, who will stage a similar film/musical happening with Batman in April 2023 in Los Angeles. The Godfather Live filled most of the 3,500 seats at the Dolby last Saturday night. The first notes of Rota’s score, soaring below the dark screen, elicited immediate applause and screams from the audience, who was then captured for the entire movie, while the music was being performed by the orchestra.  

The origin of this acclaimed film is now told in the Paramount + limited series The Offer, based on its producer Alan S. Ruddy’s (Miles Teller) memories, retracing the development of Godfather: Part I from the best-selling novel by Mario Puzo.  Collusions with the Italian American mob in New York, the anger of Frank Sinatra, the fights with then Paramount exec Bob Evans and the powers that be at Gulf + Western remind us of how a masterpiece can only be pieced together with the passion of all those involved.



A passion that clearly guided the event at the Dolby, attended by Nina Rota, daughter of Nino, who was clearly touched by the evening. Nina Rota, who only found out after her Nino Rota’s death who her real father was, is a writer who grew up between London and the United States and now manages the foundation of her father’s music with her cousin Francesco Lombardi.

“I remember going in the subways in New York, going down endless levels of stairs, and there was a street musician in the subway playing The Godfather, and everybody was stopping to listen,” recalls Nina Rota speaking by phone before the event at the Dolby. “That music has a history and a beauty to it.  I think people aren’t familiar with the rest of my father’s music, and he wrote a lot.  He had a very deep spiritual life not many people know about; he was in a hermetic/esoteric group called Therapeutic and Magic Brotherhood of Myriam.

“So, he had a deep spiritual side which I think comes through in his music, is something you can feel,” she continues. “He didn’t distinguish between film music or any other kind of music, it made no difference to him, and he was a deep person, someone who had very loving friends and family. Sometimes I think his life would have been fuller if he knew his daughter better!” she adds, laughing. “But even so, he had this deep, full life and he expressed it through the music. And I think people can experience that.”