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USA 1974
Directed by
Francis Ford Coppola
192 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
5 stars

Godfather, The (Pt II)

Most sequels fail because they simply remake the first film with a few changes, giving us less with more. Coppola, who had to be persuaded to take on the directorial role here, took all the elements of The Godfather but re-framed and re-combined them, maintaining a close stylistic continuity without being repetitious and broadened the canvas from being a story about the Mafia to one about American capitalism, charted through the history of the Corleone family as Vito (Robert De Niro) arrives on Ellis Island and gradually builds the family his son Michael (Al Pacino) inherited in the first film.

Fortunately he effectively had the same team of collaborators, from writer Puzo and cinematographer Gordon Willis to his excellent cast, bar those who had been shed in the earlier narrative, of course. The look of the film is similar but the tone is more sombre, with Pacino, now occupying a greater share of screen time, giving a mesmerizing performance as Coppola maps out the financial and political rise but moral fall of the Corleone family under Vito and Michael, as the latter fails to marry the two values of family and money.

Personally I found the back and forth alternation between the two periods somewhat jarring and in particular found it difficult to accept Robert De Niro as Al Pacino’s papa but, somewhat in the manner of Orson Welles's Citizen Kane, Coppola's magisterial vision is irresistible.

Having made so much for Paramount 2 years earlier Coppola was clearly working with a considerable budget and if the production design of the first film was wonderful, here it is equally as good, only on a more extensive scale.

 

 

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