Name the greatest movie sequel ever made.
Chances are you either said The Empire Strikes Back or The Godfather Part II. Both are respectable choices, with the latter being (arguably) Francis Ford Coppola‘s masterpiece, a stunning look at the early years of the Corleone family.
But the thing is, as acclaimed as this film is, watching it some 43 years later is still a jaw-dropping experience because it, in many ways, bests the magnificence of the original work. Obviously in this age of disappointing sequels and diminishing franchise returns we expect additional installments in a franchise to be lesser than their predecessors, but The Godfather: Part II will forever be the film that showcases the dramatic storytelling potential of additional films featuring established characters — something Hollywood still is grappling with. (Or, in the case of money machines like the Transformers flicks that make lots of cash regardless of quality, largely ignoring while adding up the dough).
This is certainly mot the case with the second entry in Coppola’s mob saga. This brilliant companion piece to the original The Godfather continues the saga of two generations of successive power within the Corleone family. Coppola tells two stories in Part II: the roots and rise of a young Don Vito, played with uncanny ability by Robert De Niro, and the ascension of Michael (Al Pacino) as the new Don. Reassembling many of the talents who helped make The Godfather, Coppola has produced a movie of staggering magnitude and vision that continues to be a masterpiece of cinema. Robert De Niro won an Oscar; the film received six Academy Awards, including Best Picture of 1974. Much more than that though, it shows the creative power of a “Part II,” and the enduring ability of cinema to truly impact an audience.