“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”
The Godfather 2. Where do I start? I love, love, love this film! It is one of my favourite movies. If I had to choose only five films, it would be in my top five. Sweeping, epic, beautiful, thrilling, operatic, emotional….
The Godfather is a fantastic film, but The Godfather 2 has the rare talent of bettering its predecessor (like The Empire Strikes Back). Francis Ford Coppola made a beautiful film that has stood the test of time and repeatedly sits in top ten movies charts.
I wasn’t even born, in 1974, when The Godfather 2 was in the cinemas. I first watched The Godfather films when I was a teenager and I was hooked.
Telling the story of the Corleone family, the trilogy could be watched individually by somebody who hasn’t seen any of the films before and be enjoyed. However, if you have the time, definitely watch all the films. It is in three ‘acts’ like an opera and like an opera, it’s protagonist, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) has his fair share of highs and lows.
If you can only watch one film, make it part 2.
Beginning in 1901, in Corleone, Sicily, we follow Vito Andolini (who will become Vito Corleone) and find out how he came to be in America and how he became head of a crime family.
We then switch back to the ‘present’ day of 1958, where Michael Corleone (Vito’s youngest son) is throwing a communion party for his own son, Anthony, whilst holding meetings in his new role as Don of the family.
The film sweeps easily back and forth between the young Vito as a boy and a young man (a role played to perfection by Robert de Niro) and his life in Little Italy in New York to Michael Corleone and his own family in the 50’s in Lake Tahoe.
Vito: [in Italian] “Do me this favour. I won’t forget it. Ask your friends in the neighbourhood about me. They’ll tell you I know how to return a favour.”
Michael started off as a ‘good guy’ in the first film. He wanted to make his own way and did not want to be involved in the family business. Something changes this, eventually leading to him becoming Head of the Family. We see the change in him in part 2. He becomes the man he always said he would never be.
The supporting cast around De Niro and Pacino are flawless. My particular favourites are Diane Keaton as Michael’s wife, Kay, who is fantastic. She tries to be the supportive wife, but can’t bear seeing the man she loves turn into a monster. Talia Shire is also wonderful as Michael’s sister, Connie. John Cazale is a delight as Fredo, Michael’s older brother. He portrays him beautifully and his character is key to Michael’s descent into a cold, unlikeable man.
Senator Pat Geary: “I despise your masquerade, the dishonest way you pose yourself. You and your whole fucking family.”
Michael: “We’re both part of the same hypocrisy, senator, but never think it applies to my family.”
Little Italy and Sicily are great in their supporting role too. Coppola lovingly films these places and somehow, even amidst the violence, keeps the beauty intact.
The Godfather 2, won 6 Academy Awards including; Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (Robert de Niro).
If you like really meaty stories with strong characters, beautiful music and epic cinematography, then you will love this film.
The Godfather 2 is the first sequel to win an Academy Award
It took 104 days to film
In the flashbacks, the language spoken is a combination of [mostly sicilian] southern italian dialects
Method actor Robert de Niro lived in Sicily to prepare for his role of Vito
Young Vito is marked with an ‘X’ when he arrives at Ellis Island as an immigrant. Apparently, immigrants were marked with this if the inspector thought the person was mentally ill