For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!
“The Godfather Part II” put me in a bit of an awkward position. It’s predecessor, “The Godfather” is further up on the list. Believe it or not, before starting this list I’d not seen either. I was informed that under no conditions could I watch the second film without having watched the first beforehand. So I watched “The Godfather” first- (amazing film) and then this classic, which was also amazing. This film continues to explore the Corleone family, focusing on Michael’s (Al Pacino) continued decent into the ‘family business’. The film also shows us the early days of Vito (Robert De Niro), Michael’s father. The first film focuses on the corrupting influence of unwanted power, and the second film has two themes running throughout, strength, and loyalty to one’s family.
Both of themes emerge early in the film when Michael discusses business with Frankie Pentangeli (Michael V. Gazzo). Michael is obsessed with loyalty and his own strength, but these things are thrown into conflict. Frankie is a family member, and is requesting protection from a rival family. The request is reasonable, but Michael needs to present a strong facade to his enemies. This means that he has to maintain a continued business relationship with Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg). The relationship between Michael and his brother, Fredo (John Cazale), creates a conflict between Michael’s obsession with strength and family ties. Fredo accepts a business offer from Hyman Roth, which results in an assassination attempt on Michael and his wife Kay, (Diane Keaton). Michael finds out that Fredo is the leak, and we see his heartbreak and resolve.
This film is much darker than the first. Soon Michael begins to use family against family. As the film moves toward the conclusion, Michael has destroyed all of the emotional ties around him, leaving him alone with his power. In the conclusion we see how fully he has transformed into a lonely Don, absent his family- alone and silent. In the first film we are not left with a clear-cut moral or lesson learned. In “The Godfather Part II” there is a clear condemnation of Michael, with little ambiguity in the film’s final moments. He is an example of what can happen when one makes the wrong choices and succumbs to rampant power over everything else.
In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns: