It was my first time watching Godfather Part II. It serves as both a sequel and a prequel to Godfather I but can be treated as a separate movie. It shows the story of the rise of Don Vito Corleone and the decline and fall of his son Michael who preceded him as Godfather. You can still understand the story without knowing how Michael got his Godfather status in the first movie but it adds more depth and meaning to the plot. This movie is more ambitious in terms of location and scope. The movies spans 60 years and three generations and were shot in different places like Cuba, Italy and different parts of America including New York and Nevada.
Here are some observations. Both movies open with a family gathering, Connie’s wedding for the first movie and Michael’s son’s communion celebration for the second. There were less action scenes and gruesome death scenes in this movie compared to the first but this movie is more tragic in terms of plot. This movie had more ‘conversation’ scenes that somehow made it tiring to watch. The unconventional way of juggling two story lines plus the increase in the amount of characters in the story also made it hard to understand. Part II is not tightly scripted as the first movie. This is primarily due to the scope of the story and various settings that lessened the intimacy of the characters.
Similar to the first movie, Michael tried his best to hold his family together but in this movie he went too far with the killings to the point that he killed his brother Fredo. Even his relationship with his wife was ruined. He could handle all the stress that came with being a Godfather and that proved that maybe he wasn’t really fit for the job. He didn’t have the same patient and cunning intelligence of his father.
I really hated Connie in this movie. At the end of the first movie she was really broken and devastated with the death of his abusive husband but in the second movie, three years after, she’s okay and has a new husband. Talk about moving on.
The cinematography in this movie is as good as the first movie. The quality is the same. There were more gloomy dark shots of Michael in this movie almost as if he lives in the dark. Visually showing the current state his mind is in.
Together, The Godfather and The Godfather Part II is the ultimate gangster story. Quoting James Berardinelli in his review of the movie “The Godfather is not so much about crime lords as it is about prices paid in the currency of the soul for decisions made and avoided. It is that quality which establishes this saga as timeless.”