The Godfather: Part III

The Godfather: Part III ★★★★½

“I swear, on the lives of my children: Give me a chance to redeem myself, and I will sin, no more.”

Not the full picture of its predecessors, but I do think The Godfather: Part III shines brightly in its own regards. It’s very much a product of a different time - as The Godfather and Part II were products of the 70s, Part III is a product of the 90s. Enacted in a much different style, tone and direction, but still in the range of the two others’ themes of family, legacy and power.

It does have its flaws, but as a product of the 90s and as a finale to The Godfather trilogy, it presents a finality to the story of Michael and the Corleone family in the most devastating and aching of ways, bringing to a harrowing close the sins and wrongdoings carried out by Michael over the years; his guilt, his crimes and the blood on his legacy have caught up to him.

What makes Part III so polarising compared to the other two films in the trilogy is that’s its a 90s, more contemporary and modern take on the life of crime that follow the Corleone family and their businesses. It feels entirely different from the electricity of the initial two and settles for a more somber, mournful tone, even with the presence and outcome of its characters, particularly an aged Michael living in regret of all his familial decisions and his naive youthful choices to place business over the importance of family. A wiser, more worn out Michael that wants to make his criminal empire legitimate, whilst passing the torch on to younger blood.

The perfect way to describe The Godfather: Part III is exactly how Francis Ford Coppola describes the trilogy: the series is a duology, whilst Part III serves as an epilogue. Part III is where we see the man underneath the persona, the villain/tragic hero of the trilogy, Michael Corleone, and who he is underneath his strong, enigmatic facade. It’s Michael at the twilight of his life in crime, his declination from the man he once was, an ebb pulling away from the dark shores of his crimes and sins, but never quite a coast of built-up blood that he can ever escape from; the tumbling coast that catches up to his actions over the years, ensuing in the murder of his daughter, Maria, that would certainly kill him many years before his own eventual death.

It’s the cycle of crime, encompassed into the brooding, sorrowful, mournful declination of Michael Corleone, as his crimes come back to haunt him and his family he claims to have been protecting over the years. It’s the most haunting of endings for Michael Corleone and his affairs in crime, but an outcome much foreshadowed through the many vices of his actions as Don Corleone. The Godfather: Part III may be a shade different compared to the first and second film in the trilogy, but Coppola’s final instalment is a haunting reminder of the sins we carry with us, mournfully closing off the trilogy with a fatal farewell to Michael Corleone.

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