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The Godfather: Part II

The Godfather Part II (1974)

The only sequel ever to win the Best Picture Oscar, the debate still occurs between which Godfather film is the best; the widely iconic original, the more complex sequel or the much derided conclusion. While it's hard to distinguish which is the best, there's no denying that The Godfather Part II is a quality made drama, with striking performances and imagery.

The film tells the story of two Corleones: Michael, with his current reign of the Corleone empire and Vito, when he first came to America.

The much more complex themes make for much more compelling viewing than the first, with betrayal and power being major themes in Part II. The exploration of Michael's slow descent into loneliness, and Vito's rise to power, work beautifully, mainly thanks to some wonderful photography and two very capable actors portraying the characters. Each performance in this film is worth noting, but it's Robert De Niro, working at his Method best, who really shines. He brilliantly plays Corleone, making each smile and each line of dialogue delivered seem effortless. It's an attention capturing performance, made all the more impressive when you realise that most of De Niro's dialogue is spoken in Italian.

The film is expertly filmed, with a more intense approach than the first, with the aforementioned photography playing a major role in the film's story, using darker colouring in Michael's parts of the story, and sepia-toned for Vito's. The writing is very intellectual and compelling, with politics and business as grand factors.

But in the end, it's Al Pacino's Michael Corleone that is most impressive. His performance beautifully captures a man who initially wanted nothing to do with the "family business", but now is too deep into it to recapture the humaity he once had.