The Godfather Part II
The sequel, like so many since, serves us “the origin story”, with Robert De Niro playing the young Vito Corleone, his tale mirroring and contrasting the experience of his son Michael (Al Pacino) as he steps into his father’s shoes as the head of the family.
Part I was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. It won three, including Best Picture. A couple of years later, The Godfather Part II repeated the trick, this time winning six. Coppola picked up three Oscars personally, for Best Picture, Screenplay and Direction (the same year, his film The Conversation was also nominated for Best Picture and Screenplay).
What’s so special about these films? Their scale and reach immediately distinguishes them from the generic gangster movies that had come before. The very notion of a three-hour gangster movie would have been unthinkable in the old days. Coppola was influenced by films from the old country: Luchino Visconti’s epic melodramas Rocco and His Brothers and The Leopard: long, dense, rich tapestries that fold together two important strains in Italian culture, neo-realism and opera. In an American context, this was a paradigm shift, ushering in an extraordinary period in dramatic filmmaking that would last until the 1980s.
Far more complexly beautiful than the first, just as it’s thematically richer, more shadowed, fuller. The completed work, contrasting the early manhood of Vito (Robert De Niro) with the life of Michael, his inheritor (Al Pacino), is an epic vision of the corruption of America.
Pauline Kael, New Yorker
Part II took six Oscars and is darker, more profound, and arguably even more compelling for its elaboration of power’s corruption into complete moral decay. Scenes, patterns and motifs deliberately mirror the original, but Part II is more elegiac and rueful and on a far grander scale, with its complex interweaving of time periods and its parallels and contrasts between the two Corleone dons.
Angela Errigo, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Talia Shire, John Cazale
Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert De Niro), Best Screenplay, Best Music, Academy Awards 1975
Francis Ford Coppola
Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola
Barry Malkin, Richard Marks, Peter Zinner