Part II explores the early life and career of Vito Corleone while seeing how his son Michael is coping with running the family.
The Godfather: Part II is both a sequel and a prequel all magnificently rolled into one truly epic story. Running parallel to each other, we see Michael in 1958 as he is coming to terms with being the new Don of the Corleone family and the pressures that come along with that level of responsibility. We then get a glimpse into the childhood of Vito Corleone as he escapes Sicily to New York City and how in 1917 everything is beginning to change for him.
The running time is an epic 3 hours and 25 minutes, and something that I can confirm is that it does not feel that long at all. Everything about the film is perfect and it really does pick up where the first leaves off. Combining beautiful shots with the sensational score and heightened by the incredible acting performances that unfold. I loved the way the stories are relevant in story telling so as Michael is facing a tough decision we are shown something that happened to Vito and this really helps the character development of both men.
When an assassination attempt is made on Michael’s life this sends him down a slippery slope as he is unsure of who to trust anymore. He has Tom Hagen almost constantly by his side and this is something that I really enjoyed considering how well Vito had treated him and cared about him. This certainly creates some very interesting scenes and a truly heartbreaking moment and scene with Fredo and the kiss of death. Seriously though that part really hit home on how much Michael had become ruthless and pretty much lost it. Kay is left with the children and pregnant with a third child, again another scene which just left me shocked involved her and also made me think how brave (or crazy) she was!
Vito building himself up after being sacked from a job for a Don was remarkable to watch. Having a truly tough start in life when his family is killed in Sicily and he is shipped across to New York. Confirming that he has always been and will always be a fighter, something else about him though was the loyalty he would show to people. Especially starting with his wife, I found that to be a rather important message as family was everything to him and it just confirms it again. We get plenty of sub-plots within the different time eras and that certainly makes everything extremely interesting.
Performances again are outstanding and I am actually going to start by talking about John Cazale. He is given so much freedom in this film and has a truly fantastic part to play in the story, he is memorable and enjoyable throughout. So sad that his life was cut short and he was only in six films, outstanding filmography though for such a short career.
Al Pacino picks up where he left off and is given the opportunity to further develop his character of Michael. Turning more sadistic and evil than he ended in the final scene of The Godfather. Given some truly epic moments and lines to really show why he is one of the greatest actors of all time. The intensity he manages to show without even saying anything is remarkable.
Robert De Niro won his first Oscar for an actor in a supporting role for his portrayal of a young Vito. I can more than understand why he is breathtaking from the first moment he appears on screen. Bearing in mind that his role apart from three lines is all in Sicilian, which makes it even more impressive right? He spent three months in preparation for the role living in Sicily.
Diane Keaton is given more screen time in this one and shares an outstanding scene with Pacino which really did leave me utterly speechless, an incredible and intense exchange. Talia Shire who I had been very impressed with during the first film was given a couple more moments to shine in this one as well. I must also mention how impressive Michael V Gazzo was as well, truly engaging and powerful on screen.
The last performance I want to highlight as he seems to not get enough praise ever, is for Robert Duvall. An actor who I feel is one of the truly greatest ever in supporting roles. I thought similar for the first film but I feel he is given even more to work with for Part II and it’s only what he truly deserves!
Another masterpiece of a film that is beautiful, heartbreaking, amazing and outstanding throughout. How would I rate it alongside the other one? Well, quite frankly don’t make me choose! Oscar winner for Best Picture, Actor in Supporting Role (De Niro), Best Director for Francis Ford Coppola, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Music (Original Score) Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola.