The second installment of the epic saga of the Corleone family weaves the story of the early life of Vito Corleone in the 1920s in New York City alongside son Michael’s rise to prominence as a mafia kingpin in the 1950s.
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Part II is the deepest and most poetic of the three [Godfather] films. It’s an operatic masterpiece with Shakespearean overtones whose cast (lead by Robert De Niro and Al Pacino), music (by Nino Rota) and gloomy lighting (by cinematographer Gordon Willis), have all become legendary.
If “The Godfather” is an exceptional piece of linear narrative, “The Godfather Part II” is more dazzling to me because of how it loops through time. You’re totally right about the second film being “superfluous” in terms of giving us new or surprising information. But it’s better (for me, anyway) because it spends more time confusing and surprising us about the information being received. I like to be confused.
Broadly speaking, the first Godfather is a generic gangster film with arthouse trimmings and the second is an arthouse film with generic gangster trimmings, but both blockbusters encompass masterful American adaptations and appropriations of recent Italian cinema.