• Godfather Trilogy Coppola Restoration

    Released by: Paramount Studios
    Released on: September 23, 2008.
    Director: Francis Ford Coppola
    Cast: Al Pacino, Marlon Brandon, Robert DeNiro, James Caan, Robert Duvall

    Year: Various
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    The Movies:

    Released as a boxed set a few years ago, Paramount and Francis Ford Coppola have gone back to the vaults to re-restore three two of the most beloved films in American cinema along with it’s somewhat maligned finale). Here’s a look…

    The Godfather: (1972)

    One of Coppola’s masterpieces, The Godfather adapted Mario Puzo’s novel and turned it into cinematic gold. It begins as a simple story about a mafia Don named Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) who, on the day of his daughter’s wedding, is taking requests from various people who would like his help. Shortly after the wedding, he meets with members of a different family who want his assistance getting into the narcotics trade. Corleone refuses, and a little while later he is shot. This causes his family, primarily sons Michael (Al Pacino) and Sonny (James Caan) and the family lawyer, Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), to have to take over the family business though Michael, who has just returned from the war, is reluctant to get involved wanting instead to marry his girlfriend, Kay Adams (Diane Keaton), and live the rest of his life as a legitimate businessman. As the Don’s health fails, however, Michael’s attitude begins to change.

    The Godfather II: (1974)

    One of those rare sequels that surpass the original film in both scope and overall quality, this second film is actually as much of a prequel as it is anything else. When the film begins, Michael is running the family business in Las Vegas where he and a local corrupt senator named Pat Geary (G. D. Spradlin) have a disagreement on what Michael should be paying for a gambling license. Eventually he expands things even further, taking on business in Hollywood and Cuba as well as Las Vegas but he still has to deal with the complications of family life including issues with his sister Connie (Talia Shire) and a Jewish gangster named Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg).

    While Michael is expanding the empire, we also learn how a young Vito Corleone (played by Robert De Niro) came to America in 1901 after his family was killed by the mafia to start a new life in New York City.

    The Godfather III: (1990)

    The least popular of the three films in the trilogy, The Godfather III might have its share of problems but it is still absolutely worth watching. An aging Don Michael Corleone once again wants to legitimize the family business and leave his criminal life behind. His wife divorced him years ago, the family home in Lake Tahoe is falling apart, and he has custody of his two children. Michael obviously wants to make amends for his past, starting a Catholic charity in his father’s name. Unfortunately, the ambition and greed of some of the younger members of the Corleone family make this move difficult, if not impossible. Michael does what he can to have the family linked to the Vatican by going in on a real estate deal but it might be too little too late as the younger generation get set to take control of the family for themselves and his daughter, Mary (Sophia Coppola), becomes involved with one of the key conspirators.

    Revisiting the Godfather films after not having seen them in a few years, it’s remarkable to see how the films have lost none of their power or their splendor. This really is an incredibly well made and fascinating trio of pictures here that do a fantastic job of telling one, big epic story of greed, lust, love and redemption. They may be overly dramatic at times but in the context of the world which Puzo and Coppola have created, it’s wholly appropriate. Pacino obviously carries the three films, he’s the link that holds the story together, and Michael Corleone’s rise and fall is both fascinating and completely tragic. Pacino shows here how good an actor he really is when working with the right material and the right director and seeing him surround by the likes of Brando, De Niro, Duvall, Caan, Keaton and other excellent performers ensures that the films benefit from one of the finest ensemble casts ever assembled.

    Coppola’s direction is completely assured and while the films may move at a slower pace than most ‘mob movies’ the deliberate storytelling fleshes out the characters so well that it doesn’t hurt the films at all. These are long and slow films but that’s how the story needs to be told, rushing things would have only hurt the end result and robbed the films of their power. The story remains as gripping as ever, and the films still look gorgeous. There are scenes throughout this trilogy that remain as powerful and emotionally devastating as ever and the trilogy completely deserves all the critical acclaim that has been lauded upon it over the years.


    Restored by Francis Ford Coppola, DP Gordon Willis and restoration expert Robert Harris, the three transfers in this collection, newly transferred from the original negatives, look great. Presented in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen, the 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encoded images are very strong and look quite film like. Certain scenes that were shot with a filter still look soft, as they should, and the image has been brightened a little bit but there is a remarkable amount of detail here and the color reproduction is gorgeous. Some of the outdoor scenes border on harsh in terms of their brightness but aside from that the movies look great. There aren’t any problems with mpeg compression artifacts or heavy edge enhancement and while sometimes mild print damage shows up in the form of specks, the image stays pretty clean and is pretty consistent.

    Audio options are provided in a new English language Dolby TrueHD 5.1 48 kHz/24-bit mix and through the original mono mix with optional Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mixes supplied in French and Spanish.

    In terms of quality, the rears aren’t used all that often in the mixes for any of the three films though III does sound a little bit more dynamic than the first two. Where you’ll really notice the difference in the audio between this release and the last release is with the score, which sounds beautiful here. That said, dialogue is clean and clear throughout the presentation and there aren’t any problems with hiss or distortion. Is this going to ‘wow’ you with a ton of surround activity? No, but it does deliver nice and accurate sounding mixes for each of the three films in this collection.

    The only extra features on the first three discs in this set, aside from menus and chapter selection, are scene specific commentary tracks for each of the three films from director Francis Ford Coppola. These tracks, carried over from the previous SD Godfather Collection release, are pretty interesting tracks for those who haven’t had the chance to listen to them yet.

    Aside from the commentary tracks, carried over from the previous DVD collection are:

    Making Of The Godfather: A feature length look at the making of the films by way of interviews with Coppola and many of his co-conspirators on the three films housed in this collection. It covers some of the same ground as the commentary tracks do but it’s a valuable piece that lends considerable insight into the history and enduring popularity of the series. Additional Scenes: These are the thirty-five outtakes that have appeared in various television versions of the films over the years. They’re presented here in chronological order and they provide some background on the Corleone family life and on various characters from the trilogy. There are also looks at the Filming Locations and a featurette on The Music Of The Godfather:

    Rounding out the extras carried over from the first release are some Photo Galleries And Storyboards, a look at the The Corleone Family Tree, a handy The Godfather Historical Timeline that puts everything into context, and some Profiles On The Filmmakers.

    With that out of the way, why bother with this new set? All new HD supplements, that’s why!

    Godfather World: This is a quick, eleven minute featurette that explores the far reaching influence that the films have had in pop culture and in film specifically.

    The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t: This is a half hour look at how the first film almost didn’t get the studio backing that it needed to be made because of poor box office and the dwindling number of theater goers. Zoetrope eventually landed the film at Paramount Studios where there were a lot of disagreements about how the film should look and how and where it should be shot. Interesting stuff!

    When The Shooting Stopped: This is a fourteen minute segment that further details the conflict that arose between Coppola and his team and the studio with a fair bit of emphasis put on the musical choices for the now famous horse head scene.

    Emulsional Rescue Revealing The Godfather: This is a twenty minute featurette that details the latest restoration that was done for the trilogy by way of interviews with Coppola, Spielberg, Gordon Willis, Robert A. Harris and Allen Daviau. While it might not sound as interesting as some of the other supplements, this is actually pretty fascinating and it goes a long way towards really enhancing one’s appreciation of the transfers that appear in this boxed set.

    The Godfather On The Red Carpet: A quick, four minute segment that is made up of interview clips and snippets from various actors and actresses who all express their appreciation for the movies.

    Four Short Films On The Godfather: This interesting collection of short films starts off with Godfather Vs. Godfather II, a two-minute shot in which interviewees discuss which is the better movie. Riffing On The Riffing is a minute and a half of a man reenacting scenes from the movies while Clemenza is just under two minutes of someone reading from the book ‘How To Really Watch The Godfather.’ Last but not least, Canoli is a quick minute and a half short where Coppola talks about his favorite Italian desert!

    The Final Word:

    Three gorgeous transfers, excellent audio quality and a fantastic array of supplements make The Godfather – The Coppola Restoration the biggest and best Blu-ray event of 2008 so far and with so few months left to go it seems unlikely that anyone’s going to top it. The movies hold up incredibly well and Paramount really pulled out all the stops on this release.