Succeeding a movie as great as the first Godfather, this movie had a lot to live up to. There are few times when the sequel is just as brilliant as the first. The Godfather part II still held the core characters of the first but with a totally different storyline. Still one of the best films ever shown in class, this movie has the elements of great acting, interesting story, and all the violence I loved so much in the first.
Discovering Don Vito’s Corleone past unfolded so many secrets and explained a lot about how he gained his power. With the flashback scenes, I felt like the film catching up to itself. The past was like racing up to the present until they meet halfway between a distant then and a troubled now. The beginning of the three brothers held such tenderness and love; one could almost forget that this is Vito Corleone, underground chief and intimidating mob boss.
Juxtaposing his father’s gain of power, this film chronicles Michael’s fall. Although he is in a seat of great influence, he still needs to eliminate his enemies. The clear indication that Michael has truly fallen from the once idealistic pedestal he used to perch himself one, is the murder of his brother Fredo. In one flashback scene, we know that Fredo had pneumonia; probably why his frame seems weak and skinny. That touch of humanity is evident on Vito’s face and we see that even gods have souls and hearts. We see how important family is to this man. Killing his own brother was just the worst thing Michael could have done. Unforgiving, ruthless, and manipulative; all these traits are embodied in Michael and what makes him even more menacing is that he is rational and calculating. Every action is well thought of and his dwindling regard for human life arises in this second movie.
What I really enjoyed about this movie is that it does not offer any consolation for the first movie. If not, it makes it even worse. At least in the first film, Vito knew how to protect his family, he would get hurt at the death of his child and he would actually shed tears. Michael, however, has been submerged into the evils of the underground crime organization that he has been desensitized towards the fragility and importance of life. The one time where he shows any emotion towards loss of a life is when he discovers that his wife had their baby aborted. His reaction was of anger and resorted to violence. Despite their several, uncanny resemblances, Michael and Vito are two very different people.
The film’s primary goal was to display how these two differ. With a scarred childhood and thoughts of revenge, Vito lived his life to support the family he has created. Michael lives his to protect interests but also to exact revenge. To minimize threats and eliminate traitors, Michael acts like a wronged Jesus, killing all the Judas that dared to cross him.
Both movies had slight religious undertones which may have only been noticed by myself. Maybe the film did not intend to be that way but once I saw it, I could not let it go. Michael’s plans raining down on his enemies like the rapture, fear strikes the audience because we see an idealistic crumble to the evils and maybe we are capable of such things.