[Quick Summary: With parallels to father Vito's early life, his son Michael must get rid of a traitor in the family.]
I've never seen the Godfather, so I entered in with an unbiased mind.
All I can say is wow. Wow freakin' wow.
The genius of the film is its additional emotional depth through...uh....flashbacks.
Yes, I said flashbacks.
ex. Michael argues with Pentangeli, the head of the NYC branch. Pentangeli storms out. Michael remembers the past.
And the script segues to how Vito first became a crime boss. Vito tries to make an honest living, but Fanucci extorts everyone. Vito eventually kills Fanucci, & returns home to his son: "Papa loves you very much."
And the script segues to Michael telling his son the same.
Note the parallels:
- Michael won't be derailed. Vito eliminates the opponent.
- Michael prizes loyalty above all. Vito doesn't rat out his friends to Fanucci.
- Michael loves his son. Vito loves his son.
The flashback doesn't just add information (which is why I usually hate flashbacks).
Here, it shows that the sins of the father are revisited by the son. We see Vito's problems in hindsight, but also are being setup for what Michael will face.
Suddenly Michael's actions have more emotional weight.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: The transitions to flashbacks were important. There were no announcements, "Now we are going to flashback" that is so jarring to the reader.
Why was it seamless? I trusted the writer that if there was a change in time in the slugline, ex. "INT. NEW YORK THEATER - 1915 - NIGHT" there was a REASON for the flashback.
Godfather Part 2 (1974)
by Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola