In the Godfather II, the editing through graphics and movement allowed the flashbacks and flash-forwards between the lives of two protagonistsVito, the father and Don Michael, his son to flow more evenly in our minds.
Although this film was shot mostly using Hollywood continuity editing style, there were thrown in some jump cuts between the flashback and flash-forwards to keep us startled and awake. This slight mixture of converging editing styles allowed us to fall completely into the lives of either Vito or Michael forgetting that at the same time, this second movie in the Godfather three part series was both a sequel and prequel interestingly enough. Although jump cuts weren’t the only way the viewers were introduced back into the lives of the other protagonist’s story, they were shocking and symbolically dumped cold water upon the audience. We viewers floundered in our minds trying to leave behind the story and action that just happened and grip onto the memories of the story we were now back in. Specifically I’m referring to a dramatic climax where Michael hits Kay and without warning we are thrown into the seemingly bland, brown world of the past that Vito controls. We are emotionally thrown to the brink through this seemingly unwelcomed cut but in the end it did allow for both characters to keep the humanness that we require out of an protagonist. Most though, the majority of the flashes between stories there were similar marks in action so that we could be slowly lowered into the lives of father and son.
For some of the jumps between father and son matches on action could be pointed out as helping transition between marking the two different stories and at the same time connecting them, even though their individual stories were separated by dozens of years. As we saw in the beginning, Michael’s face fades into Vito’s face in the exact same frame of the door so that we felt a connection between the characters that could span all those decades. Even though they walked their own different steps, their stories had similarity. This was the power of a simple editing shot that showed father and son each in their own time each with the same look of heartbreak as their faces slowly dissonant into each other.
Besides having Michael’s face slowly face into Vito’s, there was also the use of superimposing employed in the editing of this movie. Over Michaels’ shoulder would be the superimposed figure of Vito standing as a protective as a father even though in Michael’s current reality he was actually dead. This and other forms of graphic editing were employed all over the transitions of the film. I don’t want to go much into lighting but the way the editor would graphic match the brilliant and sometimes sharp light of Michaels’ life with the yellows of the past that the cinematographer is known for, was absolutely brilliant. We saw so much power and meaning behind the lighting transitions in the movie. Beyond lighting however, graphic matching became very important for the scenes in which we weren’t thrown into but had the chance to accept our minds to.
One specific example of this is use of lines and lighting that can be referred to as graphic matching through transition would be when baby Santino is bawling on the new carpet and pale yellow light shines in through the happiness of Vito’s world and from the crying we hear a sudden jump noise of a train. Out of where Vito’s head stood is a train barreling slightly at us as we are thrown into the present into the life of Michael. The noise transition and the lining up of character to object made an easier transition into the contradicting unhappy life of Michael than if we would have been thrown in.
All the transitions between the flashbacks and flash-forwards in this movie were specifically crafted to bring out emotional intensity or emotional softness in the viewer. Obviously, there were some brilliant editing techniques that allowed these flashbacks and flash-forwards between the two protagonists to take precedent in the mind of the viewer.