The Godfather and The Godfather Part II are widely considered by film critics to be two of the greatest films of all time. It’s also a rare occurrence that a sequel ends up being just as impactful and powerful as the first film in a series. Francis Ford Coppola never planned on creating a sequel to The Godfather and I could completely understand why. In my personal opinion, the first film was a masterpiece and could have completely stood on its own.
The Godfather Part II happened to be very successful and in some ways is better than the first film. The story of a young Vito Corleone and the Italian-American immigrant experience always captivated me. Not to mention some of the most iconic movie lines in history came from The Godfather Part II.
My personal favorite is, “My father taught me many things here. He taught me in this room. He taught me; keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” – Michael Corleone.
Coppola admits to trying his luck with a second Godfather film and I’m sure he felt even more pressure to make the third film surpass the high expectations. Critics weren’t so keen on The Godfather Part III and many people who have seen it would agree.
Personally speaking, it’s my least favorite of the three. There were plenty of things I would have changed, but then again, I’m not a famous film director. They don’t pay me the big bucks, but I’ll say what I didn’t like about it anyway.
The casting of Sofia Coppola was a last-minute fill in, which I understand, but the inexperience showed. The helicopter assassination of the mafia commission was completely unrealistic. If that actually happened, the National Guard would have been called in and the United States would have been on terrorist alert. I thought that was a little much and overdone. Though, it did show the extensive reach and power of the mafia. I also wasn’t too crazy about the half cousin-loving between Mary Corleone and Vincent Mancini.
Aside from those few things, I felt that The Godfather Part III got a really bad wrap. The storyline echoed the entire franchise and proved that Michael was nothing like his father. Vito Corleone died with love and respect. His reign was filled with loyalty and love from those around him. They truly believed in him as a leader. His family never questioned his judgement. Vito was a man among men.
Michael’s story is tragic. The only purity Michael had in his life was Apollonia, a fragile and untouched woman who he dearly loved. Her death, caused by his involvement in organized crime, put Michael in a tailspin with three films worth of material. Michael could find no trust or constant in his life. His brother Fredo Corleone betrayed him, his wife got an abortion behind his back, and he eventually discovered that the Catholic Church was one of the most corrupt institutions on the planet (this is part of the story, not my view).
In other words, Michael couldn’t even find purity through God. During the entire length of The Godfather Part III, Michael's only concern is legitimacy in a world of corruption. He believes he can achieve that through his daughter, Mary, who also unsurprisingly ends up dying because of the lifestyle he chose.
The film ends with two iconic moments in the story of Michael Corleone. First, the silent scream while he holds the body of his dead daughter. Soon after comes the real genius. Michael Corleone dies completely alone with an orange in his hand. Unlike his father who died with the love and admiration of his family, Michael dies being resented by the very people he swore to protect.
The Godfather Part III is nothing short of a perfect ending to this franchise.