The Godfather Saga continues with the early life of Vito Corleone in New York in the 1920’s. While Vito’s life is depicted and his rise into the life of crime, Michael (Al Pacino) is busy expanding his own choke hold on the crime world as he expands his empire to Las Vegas and Cuba. The two parallel stories of father and son mirror each other while maintaining their own individual prowess. The story begins with a young Vito (Robert De Niro) in Sicily at the funeral of his father. During the procession his older brother is murdered. Vito declares vengeance on the Don. A young boy at the time, his mother is murdered by the Don and he escapes on a ship to New York. He registers as Vito “Corleone”, the name of the town he was from in Sicily. In return Michael is busy leading his new conglomerate and setting up his place in the Nevada gaming scene. He steps on toes and an assassination attempt is made on him. It’s time to settle scores and find who can be trusted and who has betrayed him. The tale carries on bouncing back and forth between Vito’s journey and Micheal’s force as the family Don.
The Godfather Part II has been hailed as perhaps the best sequel of all time, not to mention the argument that it’s even better than it’s predecessor, The Godfather. On both accounts the arguments are fair, if not, nearly a fact. This film set out with a much more ambitious goal in it’s tragic magnificence than it’s original. It tells two stories of two crime lords who are related but their stories nowhere near the same. The story of Micheal reflects him being unbound by the two main principles that his father instilled in him. One involving the importance of family and the second regarding enemies, but when Micheal is faced with the dilemma of family being the enemy he must make a decision that could startle the heart of your coldest man. The film comes full circle finally at the end when comparing how things once were in Vito’s time and how they are finally coming to an end in Micheal’s.
In this film, contrasting the first, Michael is shot in a much darker vision, no doubt due to the fact that he has changed entirely from the wide-eyed young war hero to the shadowed Don, who is surrounded by many, but essentially alone. Michael is by the very definition, a different man now.
Because of the split story lines the intricate relationships aren’t explored as richly as the first film, but the basis for there being was already established so it actually works nicely. The only things that are similar in the two films is how each is began, and each is ended. The celebration of family and ended with the violence and death of those that threaten it’s livelihood.
The Godfather Part II is the epitome of a classic American Gangster story. All that have been made since can only strive to meet it’s beautiful composure. The simple tale remains the same, but they way it’s told is how you remember it. It’s commitment to the ideals of the first movie and just continuing the masterful story, and by letting it simply tell itself is genius in itself. The Godfather Part II is it’s own prodigy. Four out of Four