The Godfather. Part II
Mark Merlino - Home page

The Godfather Part II is a true classic. This film, like all great films, has a very rich
and complex plot, and very fine cinematography and editing. The plot tells parallel
stories, explaining how a young Sicilian named Vito Andolini became a mobster and
how his son Michael Corleone in turn lost everything that mattered to him because of
his life own of crime. Throughout the movie, the focus shifts between these two plots,
which begin in 1901 Sicily and 1950s Nevada.

As a young boy, Vito Andolini lost his family and home due to vendetta killings. For
his own safety, he emigrated to America and through his hard work established a new
home and started a new family. The movie does an excellent job at telling the story of
the difficulties faced by Italian immigrants to America in the early 20th century. Vito,
who took the name Corleone in America, suffered due to the intimidation from a local
gangster in 'the Black Hand.' But rather than accepting this abuse, Vito confronts and
kills the gangster in New York, then later returns to exact vengeance in Sicily for the
crimes against his family. In the end, Vito is no longer a hard working victim but has
become the strong man, in charge of his own criminal family, who is feared by others.

Decades later, when his son Michael was running the Corleone family, the family had
become more of business than a group of close friends and relatives as it had been in
the past. Michael spent most of his time scheming on how to increase his own wealth
and power by expanding the family's control over gambling and other rackets. In
doing his business, he hurt, neglected, betrayed and alienated his sister, brother, wife
and colleagues. In turn, Michael too was betrayed and hurt deeply by the same people
that he had abandoned. In the end, Michael took revenge on all those who had hurt or
betrayed him. He was left victorious but alone, haunted by the past.

This film is an excellent historical narrative, as it tells the stories of early 20th century
Italian immigration to New York, American gangster involvement in Cuba up until the
Cuban revolution, American government initiatives to stop organized crime in the
1950s and the growth and development of the gambling industry in Nevada.      

Godfather Part II is an excellent but tragic film that clearly shows how dangerous and
self-destructive vengeance can be.