Film Micrœviews #361 & #362: The Godfather, Parts I & II (1972 & 1974)

06.07.2017 § Leave a comment

Rating: Dr. Pepper & Dr. Pepper

 

I’d seen these before as a kid and hadn’t rewatched them recently, so I took the opportunity to share them with my girlfriend who had never seen them.
I had no idea that it was about capitalism until now. When I was young I could only understand the surface layer epic of an Italian-American mob family. Today, the commentary on turn of the century America in Vito versus postwar America in Michael is plain as day. Of course the films have quite a bit to say about the American immigrant experience, Italian and otherwise, and how that plays into our national narrative. Both Corleones represent both the individual and the country at their respective times. In the first case, it was a time when our evil actions were of moral necessity, a time when perhaps we were a sort of benevolent, virtuous, protecting don for the world. In the second, that cause degenerated into moral bankruptcy, the evil consuming us, emboldened by moral mandate.
During the first hour of II, I was concerned I didn’t see it as close to equal in quality with I as one popularly hears (while III is a distant last). I wasn’t sure because the style was so different. There was more plot, yet the plot was unfocused. Why was I caring about Cuban rebels? In the first film, I could be cutting around randomly at an Italian wedding, piecing together scattered images of a life, and feel more enthralled, and every event that then happened in this world counted for everything.
Also, the music was a bit different, the cinematography, the editing. I don’t really know how to put it other than it was more dramatic.
Furthermore, on the surface, Michael’s character seems to be less dynamic. In the first film, he transforms from college boy, war hero, and outsider into the leader of the mob. It is a journey for him of coming to accept belief in necessity of some evil. While in the second film, he starts out already accepting that belief, and ends with it still.

But I believe Michael’s journey in the second film is even more dynamic. It’s just internal. He goes from believing he can protect and keep his family and legitimize the business, to giving up and reconciling himself to being a person who destroys his family and does whatever it takes, evil or not, to protect his business. Of course the kicker is when he straight up kills his own brother, but what I’m talking about specifically is when he is trying, and failing, to push Tom away. Terribly sad.
Also, moral of the story: And that’s why you always kill the kid.
Wtf is up with the Rite of Spring quote in the score of II?

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