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The Godfather, Part II

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

USA, 1974

Cornerhouse, 6 April 2014

The Godfather Part II

Looked at again, a great film still: Pacino’s towering performance, the way Coppola swathes him in darkness.

Michael Corleone is a prince.  A man with no obvious vices, concerned with the welfare of his family and colleagues, a student of history, thoughtful and nuanced.  If he is hard on others, he’s harder on himself.  And it’s not the life he wanted.  Yet the shadows collect about him, seeming to obscure and consume his soul.

That’s the paradox at the heart of the film: the intertwining of good and evil that constitutes the character of Michael Corleone.  He is feared, but princes should be feared, or so Machiavelli taught.  Since he cannot forgive others, his strength segues into weakness.

When the credits roll at the end, you realise (again) that you’ve watched a brilliant gangster film, yes, but also a film about fate and freedom, the burden of the past and the promise of America.  The sins of the father as terrible legacy.  A true classic.

The Godfather, Part II is showing again on Wednesday as part of the Matinee Classics season, further details are here.

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