The Godfather Part 2

AFI Rank: #21
Year Released: 1974
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Actors: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton

I've seen the Godfather trilogy many times over the years, and I watched it fresh in order to write this review. When so many sequels fall flat, The Godfather part 2 does a great job of holding steady with the high bar set by the first. The first movie gave us the here-and-now, the strength of the family. This second one gives us both the future and the past. We see how Don Corleone started from a young, honorable family man to building up his reputation and community care. We also see how his son, Michael, watches his family unravel around him.

There are so many great actors here, so many great scenes and lines. The looks, the touches, are just amazing. It shows how amazing a movie can be when everything comes together just right. You get a powerful glimpse into issues of racism, both back when Don Corleone is living in the run-down streets of his young adulthood, and also when Michael deals with the modern power structure.

I love the scenes in Italy, with their strong sense of life there. I love the scenes in old New York, where you see how the Italian immigrants band together (and sometimes tear each other apart). I love the delicate interplay of family members, their long term issues bubbling to the surface.

One reason I rewatched this was to see if this passed the Bechdel Test. Sure, it's #21 on the AFI list, but does it have two named female characters who talk with each other about something other than men? It seemed a simple enough task for this epic film. After all we have the mom, we have Michael's wife, and his sister just to start. But ironically it does in fact seem that the few times the women talk it's about Michael. Connie pleads with her mom to let her talk to Michael. Connie pleads with Kay to leave before Michael gets home. There is a scene where Don Corleone's wife brings in a neighbor to plead for help. Even there, they don't really talk with each other. So despite there being some stellar actresses here, their main role is to be a part in a male dominated scene.

Still, a minor complaint about an exceptional movie. Highly recommended, and well worth watching numerous times to pick up on the myriad of subtle details which fill the story.

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AFI Top 100 Film Listing
Male vs Female Actors in the AFI Top 100
The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100