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The Godfather: Part II

The Godfather, Part II is the sequel to The Godfather, released in 1974. The film follows the original Godfather film by alternating the story of a young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro), with his son Michael's (Al Pacino) rise to control the Mob in Las Vegas. The film also stars Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Michael V. Gazzo, John Cazale, Talia Shire and Lee Strasberg. Many critics consider the sequel to be equal to (if not superior to) the original film in quality. more...

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The film was written by Francis Ford Coppola from the original work by Mario Puzo, and was directed by Coppola. Coppola stated that he was not in favor of directing a sequel to The Godfather, because he had waged a number of battles with the studio (and at one point was even in danger of being fired from his position). He initially suggested to Paramount that Martin Scorsese (who was still an up-and-coming director at the time, as well as a friend of Coppola) direct the sequel, but the studio refused. Coppola then insisted upon complete creative control of the film and a minimum of studio interference, plus a sizable salary; Paramount Pictures agreed to these conditions, and Coppola committed himself to directing the sequel.


The plot consists of two parallel storylines, and the film switches back and forth between them. One storyline is the continuing story involving Michael Corleone in the 1950s; the other is a flashback sequence following his father, Vito, from his youth in Sicily up through the founding of the Corleone crime family in New York and the births of Michael and his siblings. This version of Vito is played by different actors at different ages, but the adult Vito is played by Robert DeNiro, who won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for a role in which, interestingly, consists of almost non-English dialogue.

In a meticulous recreation of "Little Italy" in New York City at the beginning of the 20th Century, the audience experiences the early life of Vito Corleone, and his experiences with the Mafia: the murder of his father (first), brother (second) and mother (third) by a Sicilian crimelord; his flight to America, and his fight against the firmly-entrenched Mafia of his new home; his beginnings as a petty thief, his eventual rise to power as the new "Don," and his eventual revenge on the murderer of his family back in Sicily.

The "modern day" portion of the film takes place several years after Vito Corleone's death, and his son Michael Corleone's ascension to the role of the new Don. He is cold and calculating and in his attempts to strengthen the Corleone's business interests, he loses sight of his family. The film reaches its climax in a montage of death and murder that mirrors the climax of the first film.

Critical acclaim

The Godfather Part II is one of only two sequels ever to win the Academy Award for Best Picture (the other being The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King). The Godfather series remains the only series to win two Academy Awards for Best Picture. (The number of sequels to win Best Picture increases to three if one recognizes The Silence of the Lambs to be a sequel to Manhunter.)

In between The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, Coppola directed The Conversation, a story of a paranoid wiretapping and surveillance expert (played by Gene Hackman) who finds himself caught up in a possible murder plot. The Conversation was released to theaters in 1974 and was also nominated for Best Picture, resulting in Coppola being the second director in Hollywood history to have two films released in the same year nominated for Best Picture and competing for the same prize at the Academy Awards. (The first was Sir Alfred Hitchcock, with Foreign Correspondent and Rebecca. Rebecca went on to win the 1941 Best Picture Oscar. This achievement was matched by Steven Soderbergh in 2001, when the films Erin Brockovich and Traffic were nominated for Best Picture. Ridley Scott's Gladiator won the statue.)

In addition to Best Picture, The Godfather Part II won Oscars for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert De Niro), Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Director (Francis Ford Coppola), Best Music, Original Dramatic Score (Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola) and Best Writing, Screenplay Adapted From Other Material. It was also nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Al Pacino), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael V. Gazzo), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Lee Strasberg), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Talia Shire) and Best Costume Design. The film has also been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.


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