Scarlett Worthington’s review published on Letterboxd:
Is it really that good and is it really better than the Part 1?
I still prefer Part 1 but on a rewatch I appreciate this film so much more. And I’m not going to actually answer that question as it’s purely subjective.
You don’t need a synopsis section we all know it’s Part 2 of Part 1. Right ONTO THE OVERLY DETAILED ANALYSIS.
What is very impressive is when a sequel manages to reference its predecessor in a way which expands on the stories and characters even more than the first time. That is why the Godfather Part 2 holds up so well and is often preferred to the first part as it adds even more layers to characters we have already invested in so much. You are experiencing something new whilst something you know is also being ignited even more and that balance just makes for a brilliant cinematic experience. The structure/formulae of the original film is utilised again yet that smooth fresh feeling is not lost, it’s masterful purely masterful.
I spoke in my First review very deeply about the characters, specifically Michael and Vito (my analysis this time isn’t going to be that structured as my thoughts are a lot more scattered regarding Part 2 as a lot more relationships and characters become vital in aiding to Michael’s character arch), their relationship and how the death of Vito and the rise of Michael signifies the demise of the Corleone family because none of the siblings including Michael have the combination of characteristics that Vito had because Vito struggled and worked his way up after being mistreated as an Italian immigrant when he first arrived in America. Here we get to actively see why that is the case in the flashbacks of Vito’s life which are probably my favourite parts of the movie. The visual comparison in past and present also signifies the eventual demise of Michael and the Corleone family with the past being shown in a rich gold hue while the present with a much more muted and bleak look to it, there’s still a heavy use of colour but it’s quite sporadic while the flashbacks have a colour palette. One of my favourite technical aspects/visual cues is how every time the past fades back into the present there’s a second or two where young Vito and Michael’s faces are in portrait next to each other. You would think this would visually symbolise how similar the two are but whenever this shot is used, the two characters could not be in more different situations or more different points in their life. I think this reinforces the dark path that Michael is going down even more so, as we see Vito gain respect and notoriety in his work life as well as developing a strong family unit through love and care in his private life. Compare this with Michael however, where he’s drifting further and further way from his loved ones and risking threat of exposure within his professional life. This is because the lines between crime lord and just a pure monster are becoming very blurred within Michael. There’s no specific reason or moment, however with how his character arch plays out in the first movie and carries on in this one it probably is a case of power going to his head. If you think it’s something else however please do comment and say.
It’s brilliant how we get to further delve into characters like Connie, Kay and Fredo in this film and we get to see the development of these character right in the first scene. Despite seeing characters like Connie quite briefly in the first movie we know that she has changed and for the worse as a result of Michael becoming head of the family. In a similar way we see how different the relationship between Michael and Kay is if we compare how they interact in the wedding in the first film to their child’s christening in this film. It’s like she’s not even there. The first scene is brilliant as it serves as a dark mirror to the first film emphasising how much has really changed. This solidifies what is different and indicates how the story will progress for the viewer right from the get go. You are being reintroduced to characters whilst also the story is also being pushed forward. Michael’s change sets off a dangerous chain reaction to everyone around him not just his enemies.
The Godfather Part 2 feels more like a tragedy, the concept of family feels more like a facade to the darker truth rather than an actual unit and the characters seem to be falling more than rising within their character arch. This means the tone overall has a much more tense and sometimes even melancholic tone to it which makes for a very interesting dynamic that feels so different to the first film. But there’s still a sense of grandeur— especially so with the flashbacks— that keeps this film perfectly tied into the first one so that everything very much still feels like one story that’s just constantly changing as the characters and circumstances do.
Despite the longer runtime, every scene feels important and has just as much substance and a controlled sense of style as the last which additionally adds to that pure epic feel that this trilogy constantly exudes. I just love all of the clever mirroring to the first film, my favourite being the door being closed on Kay. In the first film it is being closed on her by one of Michael’s henchman whilst some gorgeous music scores the scene, symbolising how Michael is shutting her out of his professional life that she cannot be a part of, there manages to still be a sense of elegance to this moment as well. In this film however he himself closes the door on Kay showing how she cannot be a part of him and there is no music at all. It’s moments like this that make Part 2 feel so much more brutal that Part 1 which is peculiar as we hardly see physical brutality (only compared to the first instalment not in general) just that of the emotional kind or brutality that lies in actions. That says a lot about the difference and brilliance of The Godfather Part 2 and I think that’s a good note to end my review on.
Also thank you so much for liking and hyping up my last review of The Godfather :)