13. The Godfather
score by Nino Rota
There are a few scores which are completely inseparable from their source film, so iconic that to think of one is to immediately think of the other, the best of them operating as seamless sense memory. When you hear the first few notes of Nino Rota’s score for The Godfather, you can’t help but roll through a series of images like a fever dream – Vito Corleone behind his desk, a horse’s head rolled in the sheets, the crunch of gravel under Michael’s heels as he walks away after meeting with his brother in law. The Godfather, for good or ill, and in large part due to Rota’s unforgettable work, has forever crystallized the world’s perception of an Italian-American subculture, creating a watershed moment in the way we thought, and continue to think, about ethnicity, culture, crime, and ourselves.
Essential tracks – The Pickup, Godfather Finale