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Section Header
The Godfather Part II
Co-Composed by:
Nino Rota

Co-Composed and Conducted by:
Carmine Coppola

Produced by:
Tom Mack

MCA Records

Release Date:
March 26th, 1991

Also See:
The Godfather
The Godfather Part III

Audio Clips:
1. Main Title/The Immigrant (0:32):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

2. A New Carpet (0:27):
WMA (179K)  MP3 (224K)
Real Audio (158K)

3. Kay (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

12. The Brothers Mourn (0:32):
WMA (211K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

Regular U.S. release.

  Winner of an Academy Award (both composers). Nominated for a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe.

The Godfather Part II
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Buy it... if you seek to investigate only one score in this famous franchise, a compelling combination of the memorable themes from the first score with several powerful additions for the continuation.

Avoid it... if, like the first score, you expect to hear either a truly well-rounded work outside of its primary set of themes or, for that matter, any definitive album release of the music.

The Godfather Part II: (Nino Rota/Carmine Coppola) Considering all the popular sequels within the various franchises in Hollywood that have followed Francis Ford Coppola's extremely successful The Godfather Part II, it's astonishing to recall that Paramount was initially quite nervous about the financial viability of a direct sequel in 1974, fighting the director's attempt to use "Part II" as a portion of the title. Despite the eventual mutual interest in the second film, however, Coppola was disgruntled over his experience with The Godfather, and in an effort to appease him, the studio afforded Coppola a greater budget and the opportunity to make another fine picture of his choice the same year (The Conversation). For a second time, a superior script (again utilizing input from author Mario Puzo) and a phenomenal ensemble cast performance were highlights of the production (the last to be shot in Technicolor, too), leading to six Academy Awards in eleven nominations and inclusion high upon many accomplished critics' lists of the top films in the history of cinema. The plot of The Godfather Part II is even more sinister and depressing than that of the previous entry, despite the romantic half of the film dealing with Vito Corleone's immigration to America and ascension to power. All three films in the franchise conclude with tremendous assassination scenes that solidify Michael Corleone's general position in the mafia, the second film eliminating most of the remnants of the old Italian hierarchy (and some within) as the Corleone family moves into the realm of Nevada gambling in the 1950's. Coppola has long maintained that the first two films (of 1972 and 1974) are the primary features and the The Godfather Part III in 1990 was nothing more than an epilogue. Indeed, The Godfather Part II is easily the powerhouse of the franchise, and the film also represented the pinnacle of the music for the topic as well. The score for the original The Godfather caused a sensation, its two primary themes extremely memorable in the mainstream, though because Nino Rota adapted material from several of his previous works for these themes, he was ineligible for some awards consideration. The equation would be a bit different for The Godfather Part II, Rota returning and writing significantly more fresh music and the director's father, Carmine Coppola, again writing the source music heard in performances on screen.

The balance between original score, original source music, and licensed material heard in The Godfather Part II is similar to what existed in The Godfather, but rather than regurgitate the three primary themes endlessly this time (although still effective in the first film because of their quality), Rota creates a larger selection of themes from which to choose in this musical narrative. The returning identities include the famous "Godfather Waltz," the equally popular love theme, and the more elusive "Michael's Theme." The first two of these are largely marginalized as Michael Corleone moves further from the familial success that his father had achieved, thus affirming (along with some help from the third score in the franchise) that the tragic theme for Michael is indeed the final identity of the concept. The use of famous waltz and its secondary, solo trumpet phrases, is constricted in The Godfather Part II to mostly obligatory statements at the very outset of the film in "Main Title" and a fragile solo violin version at the end of "End Titles." It is also heard more longingly and in wistful instrumentation at the end of "Kay" (an uncomfortable yielding) and in fragments within "The Brothers Mourn." The love theme is, for some listeners, abandoned in The Godfather Part II, though many of its structures and sensibilities would be adapted into Rota's primary immigrant theme for the picture. The only performance of note for the love theme exists in "Remember Vito Andolini," a scene of appropriate formal merging of the love and immigrant themes in a redemption tone. The theme for Michael that made such an impressive impact in the concluding cues of The Godfather (and reinforced by choral accompaniment) is increasingly pervasive in this work, immediately following the famous trumpet phrase that usually preceded the waltz in "Main Title," ominously overshadowing a new theme for Kay in "Michael Comes Home," a portent of death over the immigrant theme in "The Brother's Mourn," and again opening "End Title" with significant weight (but no chorus). None of the performances of these themes is particularly remarkable in The Godfather Part II, each mostly overshadowed by the new themes. The romantic tone of "Remember Vito Andolini," with its flute performances of the old love theme, is a surprising highlight. The continued employment of mandolin, accordion, and acoustic guitar provide more than enough continuity on top of those thematic references.

Of the three new themes Rota composed for The Godfather Part II, none has as much impact as the one for a young Vito Corleone, often termed the "immigrant theme." It is easily the centerpiece of this score, taking many familiar parts of the love theme and infusing theme into a robust symphonic representation of hope that counters the extremely drab personality of Michael's increasingly dominant theme. The film's opening scenes offer the immigrant theme in its full glory, and it is likely this one cue that provided Rota with an Oscar win for this assignment. The theme is almost always referenced in the flashback sequences, from "Vito and Abbandando" to supporting roles in "A New Carpet" and "Remember Vito Andolini." The tapering of this theme to its most melancholy form in "The Brothers Mourn" to convey the death of Vito's widow and the impending killing of Fredo bring this theme about into a full circle, albeit devastating. The use of Michael's theme as persistently interrupting counterpoint to the immigrant theme in this cue produces one of the most effectively disturbing cues in the franchise. Rota revisits the theme in full symphonic glory, with impressive brass counterpoint and forceful piano in the bass, in "End Title." Also heard briefly in that summary "End Title" cue is the cute tarantella (modeled after Southern Italian folk dance traditions) for the more comical side to Vito's youth, burped with considerable humor from bassoon and tuba (among others) in "A New Carpet." The reminders of the immigrant theme in this piece are remarkably effective on screen despite the disparate tones. Some do not consider this folksy interlude to be a theme in and of itself, which may be fair. Definitely an identity to be shattered in The Godfather Part II is that of Michael's wife, Kay, the unfortunately bystander and victim of the family business who is increasingly threatened and isolated in this story despite her eventual awarding of custody over the children. The establishment and death of her theme in The Godfather Part II (only to be revisited in ghostly form in the third score, as necessary) is so blatantly tragic that it is even more depressing than Michael's theme (quite a feat). It opens with a descending figure based on "The Pickup" from the first score that probably represents that "sinking feeling" she experiences at the end of the first film and eventually fully realizes when the door is literally shut on her a second time in The Godfather Part II. The lovely piano and whimsical light jazz version of the theme in "Kay" (reprised in "End Title") is suspicious in "The Godfathers at Home" and comes to an agonizing halt on faltering woodwinds in "Michael Comes Home."

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Among the greatest successes that Rota achieved in this franchise was the integration of the themes in The Godfather Part II. They are so expertly placed that you tend to forget that they don't experience significant evolution over the three pictures. The form of a theme in its first incarnation is likely similar to that of its last, and the instrumentation (despite the loss of the chorus as the story progresses) aids in maintaining that consistency. But Rota is so adept at offering the right themes at the right moments with just enough unique inflection to address each scene that his music for the franchise still functions perfectly, especially in this score. The reminder of the descending phrase for Kay at the end of "Remember Vito Andolini" is one solid example, as is the interesting mingling of the title waltz with Kay's theme in "After the Party." Much of that technique would be lost when Carmine Coppola took the reigns for The Godfather Part III (Rota had already been dead for a decade by 1990) and simply regurgitated some of Rota's themes as necessary. That said, The Godfather Part II isn't an entirely perfect soundtrack, and while it easily remains the strongest of the three, a few nagging flaws do exist in its ranks. The theme for Kay, while expertly applied to the film, doesn't really sound like a good representation of Diane Keaton's character. Rota attempts to address her with the sound of American jazz from an era thirty years prior to the setting of this film, and while the attempt to distinguish her sound from the otherwise Italian tone of the scores is understandable, the rambling piano, longing saxophone, and muted trumpet appeal is simply out of place in the late 1950's. Some of that circumstance is mitigated by the solo violin and xylophone performance of her theme in "The Godfathers at Home." Also disrupting the listening experience once again to some degree is Coppola's material; given Rota's capability to write this music himself, it's curious that he wasn't given the opportunity to handle the entirety of the soundtracks himself (potentially better working additional existing music in with his original themes). Also problematic once again is the album presentation of The Godfather Part II. Several superior re-recordings of the immigrant theme in digital sound are good companions to the original performance, which itself is restricted in quality by technology of the era. While perhaps not as troubling as the album for the first film (this one did make the top 200 Billboard charts for a short time in 1975), the 1991 CD is likewise not complete. Still, given that the third film's soundtrack was dominated by Coppola's two inferior themes, faint reminders of Rota's work, and the famous opera at the end, The Godfather Part II is still the pillar of strength in this franchise. ***** Price Hunt: CD or Download

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.54 Stars
Smart Average: 3.42 Stars*
***** 59 
**** 37 
*** 26 
** 16 
* 25 
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    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
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   The Godfather Part II Formula
  Bruno Costa -- 12/5/10 (4:46 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 38:28

• 1. Main Title/The Immigrant* (3:25)
• 2. A New Carpet* (1:58)
• 3. Kay* (2:58)
• 4. Ev'ry Time I Look in Your Eyes**/After the Party* (2:33)
• 5. Vito and Abbandando* (2:36)
• 6. Senza Mama/Ciuri-Ciuri/Napule Ve Salute - performed by Livio Giorgi (2:34)
• 7. The Godfathers at Home* (2:33)
• 8. Remember Vito Andolini* (2:59)
• 9. Michael Comes Home* (2:18)
• 10. Marcia Stilo Italiano** (2:00)
• 11. Ninna Nanna a Michele - performed by Nino Palermo (2:18)
• 12. The Brothers Mourn* (3:18)
• 13. Murder of Don Fanucci - performed by Marcia Religioso/Festa March (2:48)
• 14. End Title* (3:51)

* composed by Nino Rota
** composed by Carmine Coppola

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes extensive photography and captions about the plot, but no extra information about the score.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Godfather Part II are Copyright © 1991, MCA Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 10/5/09 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2009-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.