Title: The Godfather: Part II
Release Date: 20 December, 1974
Oscar Ceremony: 8 April, 1975
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall
Nominees: Chinatown, The Conversation, Lenny, The Towering Inferno
“My father taught me many things here – he taught me in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” – Michael Corleone
The saga of the Corleone family returns, only this time it’s even longer: 3 hours and 22 minutes of mafia fun. Once again, the length did not bother me at all. There’s something about The Godfather and Francis Ford Coppola that always leaves you wanting more.
Pictured above is a young Vito Corleone on Ellis Island, fresh from Italy. That’s right, The Godfather Part II is both a sequel AND a prequel. It kills two birds with one stone by jumping back and forth from how Vito Corleone became a big-shot mafia boss and how Michael Corleone manages to carry on his legacy in the present. The last movie ended with Michael becoming the new Godfather following his father’s death (evidently Fredo was too dumb for the part), and this movie starts by showing us where it all began with a 7 year-old Vito Andolini witnessing the murders of his family members in the small Italian town of Corleone. When young Vito manages to flee to America, his shyness and poor language skills lead the officials to register him as Vito Corleone, mistaking his hometown for his family name. Talk about representing your ‘hood. We slowly see Vito grow up into Robert De Niro and make a name for himself in New York. We also take this time to remember that De Niro is in fact Italian and seems to speak the language quite well too. His raspy voice and nonchalant air really bring a little something extra to the character. While I loved Marlon Brando, I can’t complain about Robert De Niro. They were both excellent casting choices. Interestingly enough, they are the only two actors to ever win separate Oscars for playing the same character.
Meanwhile, the present narrative starts with Michael’s son’s baptism in Nevada. The Corleone family now has extensive business in Las Vegas, so the gist of the story is set around there. However, we also get to see a little bit of Miami and Cuba. Kay, Michael’s wife, is not too happy with the way things are turning out. When she first met Michael, he assured her that his family’s shady business was not representative of who he was. As he slowly started to take over his father’s role, he kept reassuring Kay that he would work hard to make the family legitimate. Still, here we are years later and nothing is getting any better. Michael has lost himself in his power trip at the expense of his wife and children.
Some people say that The Godfather Part II is not as amazing as the first one, but I don’t really see it that way. It’s true that sometimes I wasn’t as interested because Part II has more business talk and less intriguing situations, but in the end I would still give it five stars, and the main reason for that is Al Pacino. He’s a fantastic actor to begin with, and this franchise is the perfect outlet for him to showcase some really impressive character development. After watching both movies back to back, you realize how far Michael Corleone has come and how careful Al Pacino has been in portraying his evolution. I could watch him all day. If he could just grow a little taller, it would be even better. Then again, his average height does kind of contribute to his persona.
The other thing about The Godfather Part II is that it’s a pretty epic revenge tale. The Corleone family might not be legitimate and good, but after watching this movie it’s impossible to not have at least a little bit of respect for Don Vito. It’s always interesting to watch movies where the protagonists are essentially society’s antagonists, because you find yourself rooting for an unusual party. Moreover, it allows you to dive deep into their psyches and learn about how their past has shaped them. I did not expect to be so fascinated by The Godfather movies and yet here I am raving about them. I haven’t heard many good things about the third one, but I still feel a sense of duty to watch it now. However, this marks the end of my job for this blog, since Part III did not win an Oscar. Still, it’s been a fun ride.