Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Godfather Part II

The Godfather Part II; crime drama, USA, 1974; D: Francis Ford Coppola, S: Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Robert De Niro, Talia Shire, Diane Keaton, John Cazale, Lee Strasberg

Two parallel stories of the Corleone family: Sicily, 1901. Mobster Ciccio kills the whole family of the little boy Vito. He emigrates alone to save his life and arrives in New York, where he is mistakenly given the last name Corleone and grows up trying to get rid of poverty. As a grown man, Vito makes friend with an Italian mobster and climbs up the hierarchy. As an olive oil owner in Sicily, Vito kills the old Ciccio...In '58, Vito's son Michael is now in charge of the mobster business and has 2 goals: to start a hotel business in Havana and to start a casino business in Nevada, even though he needs a vote from a Senator to do so. Michael uses the assistance of mobster Hyman Roth. After he survives an assassination attempt, Michael discovers that his brother Fredo betrayed him. Michael has him killed instead and divorces himself from his wife Kay.

The first "Godfather" was declared a classic because it daringly gave a glimpse into organized crime and showed how that system ticked, for which he won numerous awards and praise. Almost as some sort of paradox, 2 years after it was made, director Francis Ford Coppola made a "miracle" with this sequel which won even more awards and became an even bigger success, winning 6 Oscars (including best picture, director, screenplay and supporting actor Robert De Niro, who spoke Italian during the entire film) and one BAFTA award (best actor Al Pacino), and, despite the fact that it's weaker and rather confusing at times, it was even declared as a better film than the original "Godfather". Just like the 1st film, Coppola and Mario Puzo again follow the mobster business - the film is fascinating because of 2 things.

Firstly, by showing the system of organized crime and how Michael uses tricks and deceit to start a profitable casino and hotel business, it displays "the people behind the curtain", influential individuals who try to control the market, far from the public and the law. Secondly, by showing a parallel story of Michael's father Vito, who came to New York all by himself as a little child, it gives an unbelievable insight into how a "nobody" could manage to become "somebody", powerful and influential with time. But in doing those two different stories side by side, Coppola also shows the differences between Michael and Vito - how one failed and the other succeeded. Intriguing 200 minutes of running time, with a lot of contemplative messages (for instance, Vito's family was killed by a mobster. Motivated by revenge, the poor Vito became a rich mobster. By killing that mobster, he actually destroyed the catalyst for his own success), but with already seen style from the original which seems rather worn out and grey towards the end, whereas the story is rather cold and slightly uninteresting at moments.


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