Francis Coppola has somewhat been able to create a Godfather II, a sequel to the first Godfather, in a more elaborative and heavier manner. In Godfather I, we can already conclude that Michael Corleone’s character transformed from someone who did not want to get in the business of his family to becoming the successor of his father, Vito Corleone. Godfather is watched by a lot of people, some liking it more and others the latter. They watch it because obviously it is a continuation and companion of Godfather I.
I watched this sequel for the first time the same way I watched Godfather I for the first time. The setting was still in my grandparents’ house watching with the same people and the same environment so I was never able to fully understand the movie until I watched it in class. Having watched The Godfather II for the second time made it so much more fun for me. While I was watching in class, there was a feeling of “I know what’s going to happen next… wait. I am not sure.” So somehow there was still an enjoyable experience of wanting to be the spoiler to my seatmates and anticipating the dramatic scenes that stood vague in my head.
The story of The Godfather II seems more elaborative because there was the story of Vito Corleone’s past (from his childhood to how he ended up being so powerful) juxtaposed to Michael Corleone’s present reign. Viewers watching this film right after Godfather I may wonder why they didn’t show the life of Vito Corleone first. But I believe that this was both a good thing and a bad thing. The transitions between the two lives, for me, were a good thing because it showed the differences of father and son. I felt that both of their characters seemed to grow but in very different ways. However, I do also believe that it can be a bad thing if people do not enjoy several characters in a movie. At some points, the element that caused confusion in my whole experience watching this movie was the increase of characters. There were characters from the first Godfather that were younger in The Godfather II so it was hard to recognize each one and plus, there were the characters of Michael Corleone’s time. Basically, there was a mix of both old and new characters that manages to confuse at some way but then directs you to understanding a lot more things in depth.
Revealing the lives of Vito Corleone’s past juxtaposed to Michael Corleone’s reign forced us viewers to compare the two. It focused on how both of them rise to special occasions. Vito Corleone had a more harsh life. Being a less fortunate orphan at a very early age and actually seeing his other family member getting killed, viewers would believe that Vito Corleone had so much angst and anger that could lead him to be a murderer, a crazy man. However, the life of trial and starting from scratch then making it to the top was a life Vito Corleone lived. I wouldn’t say exactly that he had a perfect life (he killed the “Don of their Town”) but from someone so soft-spoken to someone so wise and in power, made him seem very respectable. It was hard for me to hate Vito Corleone even if he killed people because in the movie this was not only seen. What was also highly exposed was his character being a father and a husband. The endearment aspect comes in where I felt that he negotiates with people and sometimes has them killed but with good intentions and for good reason like the time he killed the man who had his family killed. Watching his past and also comparing it to the first Godfather, I found that he valued his family more than anything which made it easier for me to love his character.
Michael Corleone, on the other hand, lived a different life. Born with the money and being able to go to college, we can say that he lived an easier life. The role of being the Godfather just landed on his hands than Vito Corleone really working hard for it. And I believe this is an aspect that contributed to the way he did things. Even if Michael seemed to live an easier life, he still seemed to be harsher and more brutal than his father. In the sequel, where it describes the life of Michael as the Godfather, I felt that his transformation from being a leader changed into being a tyrant. I didn’t like how his character changed so much from the way he was in the first Godfather; from someone so respectable to someone despicable. There was a big change in Michael’s character. And for me, I didn’t like it. Maybe one reason would be that although he did love his family, he never truly valued them as much. I believe that whole “being the successor to my dad” thing overpowered him and pressured him a lot to a point where he lost his wife and kids and where he had his brother, Fredo, killed just because he accidentally turned against the Corleones. However, I believe that a symbol of realization and regret was revealed in the last scene where he was just sitting by the lake in deep thought.
Personally, I like the two films of Francis Coppola. I think they were well directed, the characters were well casted and the stories of both were just awesome. I think I prefer though, Godfather I because it was less heavy than part two and I liked Michael’s character then. In the second Godfather, I seemed to have lost the appreciation just because I didn’t like his character’s growth, how he turned out to be. But putting that aside, I believe it was a very good idea that combined two stories in one film. Some feel that the exchange of the stories made it hard for them to follow each one. But in my case, I liked that element because the minimal fluidity of each story made the movie in general not dragging.
A lot of morals and values in the Godfather movies are mostly questioned but the stories still remain intriguing and impactful. Time-consuming stories like these are not always well executed but somehow Francis Coppola was able to break out of this stereotype and create two movies that outstandingly define the inside scope of a secret criminal organization, a life of a mafia.
I applaud Francis Coppola for sheer greatness.