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The Godfather: Part II

 

Year: 1974 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola 
Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall  
An image from The Godfather: Part II
Review:

Two years after his epic The Godfather, director Francis Ford Coppola returned to the world of the Corleone family for the sequel, The Godfather Part II. In doing so he created a rare example of a sequel to an already great film that not only matches the quality of its predecessor, but according to some critics, surpasses it.

The Godfather Part II tells two parallel stories. Firstly, it deals with the continuing efforts of Michael Corleone (Pacino) to restore balance to the mafia empire he has inherited from his father. As he finds competition and betrayal wherever he turns, Michael begins to grow ever more ruthless, playing off his friends and family against each other with a cold efficiency that, with Pacino’s intense performance, is nothing short of chilling.

Michael’s story is permeated with flashbacks to the early life of Vito Corleone, beginning with the Don’s tragic childhood in Sicily and following his journey to New York as a young orphan. Then, in an Oscar winning performance by Robert De Niro, we see Vito’s rise to power and the beginning of the legacy that still haunts Michael in the present day.

Nominated for eleven Academy Awards, this film ranks alongside the first in the trilogy as one of the most influential American films of all time. It tells its story of ruthless power play with poetic lyricism and epic tragedy. If you’ve already seen The Godfather, come and see this one. It is a brutal and compelling work of art.

Charles Eades

Part II is one of the only films in cinematic history considered better than its predecessor. Winning six Oscars, Coppola’s crime epic is a combination of perfect acting, a brilliantly adapted script and stunning visualisations. The Godfather left Michael Corleone secure in his role as head of the largest crime syndicate of the 1950s, and Part II portrays how he expands the crime scene and tightens his grip on it, while trying to keep some sense of family values. In parallel to Michael’s tale is the story of Vito Corleone (Michael’s father). Through flashbacks and appropriately timed scene cuts, the life of the grocery worker who turned to crime to survive is portrayed. The very young Vito starts the film, running away from what he will later to turn to himself: murder. He runs from the murder of his father, already marked out by his father’s enemies as a son who will come back for vengeance. Eluding death, Vito escapes to New York along with the other million Sicilian immigrants. Growing up in poverty, Vito leads a simple life and only when a bully preys on him and his friends do his skills of persuasion, manipulation and ultimately the ability to carry out murder come through. Vito’s growth in power is set in contrast to Michael’s own story. With assassination attempts on Michael as the new Don, it is obvious that there is betrayal within the Family. Trying to get to the bottom of it, dealing with his shattering relationship with his wife and becoming paranoid of everyone, Michael begins to sink deeper into himself and fragments his family.

What could have been a confusing film is perfectly made by Coppola’s direction and understanding of screenplay. The Pacino/De Niro coupling is nothing short of genius, both being superb in their roles - De Niro full of conviction and Pacino chilling. Michael’s words, “If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it's that you can kill anyone” really hit home the magnitude of a Don’s power and how far Michael will go to get his way.

Victoria Galloway

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Screenings of this film:

2005/2006 Spring Term (35mm)
2012/2013 Spring Term (35mm)