Godfather II

Godfather II

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Godfather II

The real importance of any movie can't be adequately appraised solely by box office success or critical response. 'The Godfather Part II” is an example of how a carefully crafted sequel to a great film can become both a box office and critical success when attention is paid to its artistic quality. The movie continues the tale of the Corleone family, and presents to the viewers a world filled with greed and betrayal, family union and loyalty. A companion piece in the truest sense of the term, “The Godfather Part II” earned as much praise as its predecessor, if not more. Earning twelve Academy Award nominations, the second installment has been rightfully hailed as the best sequel of all time. While "The Godfather, Part II" did not exceed the box office gross of the original, the movie can still be considered a blockbuster, and not at all a flop.
“The Godfather” earned instant success when it was first released in 1972. Earning both praise from critics and box office success, making about $135 million, the movie became an instant classic. One of the reasons for the high status of “The Godfather Part II” lies in the fact that the movie was authored by the same author with the same intent in mind. While other sequels usually serve as nothing more than easy way for unimaginative producers to cash on previous successes, “The Godfather Part II” was a nice opportunity for “Coppola to experiment, correct some possible flaws or even answer to critics of his previous work.” (Dragan Antulov, IMDB) The biggest and most serious objection to “The Godfather” was Coppola's allegedly apologetic portrayal the Mafia. Coppola was accused of showing organized crime as being more noble and less violent than it actually was. His Mafiosi are shown as dedicated family men, opposed to narcotics and any unnecessary violence, and in some way even better alternative to legitimate government.

In the second movie, Coppola intended to use the story of the first part to paint more realistic and, consequently, much darker picture. Instant financial success did not follow “The Godfather Part Two” as it did the first movie. The reason was created due to the fact that the second movie represented one of the examples of the now generally despised practice in modern Hollywood, making sequels out of the successful, great movies.

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Such practice earned the utter disdain of contemporary critics because the sequels almost always fail to meet the standards of its predecessors, and, more often than not, succeed only in tarnishing their great memory. Therefore audiences were wary of attending the second movie, fearing it would not live up to their expectations. The box office numbers reflect this; the second movie earned only $57.3 million. Nevertheless, other factors contribute to the blockbuster status of the movie.

“The Godfather Part 2” is considered to be the finest sequel ever made and is arguably a finer film than the original Godfather. The film is divided into two main parts, the story of a young Vito Corleone and the rise to power of Michael as the head of the family. The film expands upon the original movie and brings us into the family's activities in Nevada, Florida and Havana. Set in the 1950s, the story picks up soon after "The Godfather" left off: Michael Corleone has moved some operations to Las Vegas, but remains involved in New York organized crime. He also seeks to expand operations to pre-Castro Cuba, in partnership with aging, chronically ill Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg). He also has to defend himself against congressional hearings into his criminal activities. As in the first film, Michael ruthlessly punishes those who oppose or betray the 'family' (i.e. himself). Although his success continues, he also becomes ever more cold and distant: nearly a personification of evil. The only emotions that remain are the desires to punish those who have hurt him. The second part involves flashbacks of Michael's father Vito first as a boy, then as a young man. Vito (De Niro) immigrates to America, alone, to escape a vendetta against his family. Although he can be as ruthless as his son would later be, Vito also rewards with favors those who are on his side. Since the people he kills seem to deserve it, Vito comes off better than Michael does. De Niro's detached cool provides a welcome break from Pacino's relentless gloom, and it was wise of Coppola to shuffle the two films together despite the film's length and the disturbance of continuity. The plot of the movie is rather complex, thanks to this revolutionary idea by Coppola to mix two stories. Both stories come together perfectly and affect us equally. Coupled with Nina Rota's mournful score we are told a story of one man's self-destruction. They are both examples of near cinematic perfection, and they are both hard-hitting tales that live in your mind.

Even though “The Godfather Part II” did not earn as much financial success as its prequel earned, it earned much more critical success. This is reflected by the twelve Academy Award nominations the movie earned, winning six academy awards: Best Art Direction, Best Direction, Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Picture. This is compared to the first movie’s three awards won.

Is it true that most sequels pale in significance to the original, that most sequels become flops instead of attaining the blockbuster status of the original? Absolutely. The “Batman” series is one of many such examples. But “The Godfather Part II” is an exception. “The Godfather Part II” is a more ambitious production than the original since it attempts not only to tell a pair of completely disconnected stories, but also to do so in parallel. The sequel was an astonishing act of filmmaking that never spared your feelings. It showed us a man and his gradual dissension into evil. The violence was always needed, never gratuitous. Complete control was spread throughout in a study of power, a tale of a family and of Michael Corleone, once a young man who wanted nothing to do with the family business and now a greedy ruler who ruins both his life and those of the people around him. Every minute is utterly engrossing and completely amazing. “It is truly epic - the magnificent clean strokes that paint out a tale of life in the mafia.”(Dragan Antulov, IMDB)
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