Lord_Potato11’s review published on Letterboxd:
If The Godfather was about Michael Corleone selling his soul, Part II is about him selling his family.
“A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”
Part II’s brilliance lies in its subtle contrasting of Michael and Vito, told through two simultaneous stories functioning as a prequel and a sequel to The Godfather. While both end up committing acts of violence and bloody revenge, only one retains his humanity through it all. In the last thirty seconds of the movie, young Vito is seen waving to his family out the window of a moving train car, his son in his arms. This is after committing a startlingly violent act of cold-blooded revenge against a helpless old man. Young Vito was able to retain both his humanity and his soul despite living a life of violence, while Michael is subsumed in greed and a bloodthirsty quest for power when he loses sight of what’s most valuable.
It begs the question, though, had Vito been betrayed by a close member of his family, would he have retained his humanity? Or would he have been driven down the same path of vengeance that Michael eventually went down? Were Michael and Vito really that different after all?