Coppola's Godfather trilogy gets a new birthday suit for its 50th
By Jim Bray
Paramount Pictures has given one of the most honoured films in Hollywood history – and its two sequels – a new lease on life thanks to a meticulous 4K restoration of Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather trilogy. And, especially if you don't own the movies already, it's definitely worthy of your time.
I'm not going to get into the storylines of the films, which have been discussed ad nauseam, but rather I'll go over this terrific new five disc set (four 4K discs and a Blu-ray full of mostly great extras) so you can know what to expect from it.
I didn't remember the third movie that well, and it seems as if a lot of people had a really good time dumping all over it when it came out so many years after we assumed the saga had ended. I remember thinking it was better than many folks had made out – of course, one person's feast being another's famine – but it wasn't as memorable as the first two.
Now, however, Paramount has given Coppola a chance to rethink that third feature and the result is the re-edited The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, which is now the "official" third film in the trilogy's set. This director's cut is actually pretty darn fine, though purists might be upset that they've "put a moustache on the Mona Lisa" by rejigging it after all these years.
Yet director's cuts are far from rare, and often they make for the definitive versions of a particular film.
And Paramount has given us the best of all worlds here, because the fourth 4K disc is of the "original" Godfather III, and it appears to have been given the same remastering/restoration that the rejigged version got.
As for the rest of the films, they really do look better than ever, though (perhaps not surprisingly) they also look better as the series unfolds – so The Godfather isn't quite as nice as II, which isn't as nice as III. Despite that, I came away quite amazed with now well the movies have turned out in this 4K incantation.
I probably shouldn't have been surprised, though, because Paramount is an old hand at resurrecting old titles and giving them a new lease on life. They did it a couple of years ago with The Ten Commandments and even more recently with their terrific restoration of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Right off the bat, Paramount brought Coppola to the table, which cannot be a bad thing. And, perhaps not surprisingly, he signed off happily:
"I am very proud of The Godfather, which certainly defined the first third of my creative life," Coppola said in Paramount's release announcing the titles. "With this 50th anniversary tribute, I'm especially proud Mario Puzo's THE GODFATHER, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is included, as it captures Mario and my original vision in definitively concluding our epic trilogy. It's also gratifying to celebrate this milestone with Paramount alongside the wonderful fans who've loved it for decades, younger generations who still find it relevant today, and those who will discover it for the first time."
It definitely shows. I'm glad they restored the original mono tracks, because I like originality. That said, however, the 5.1 remixes are very good and I actually preferred those tracks. Still, the audio is old and so not up to some of today's digital audio tracks, but that's okay. It works.
The 4K picture is still a tad soft in places, but I believe that's because the original images looked that way in the first place – so while I was disappointed that we didn't get "pop off the screen" images like you can get with more modern movies (especially ones shot digitally), it's still a darn fine presentation and easily the best to date. You can see just how much all the effort worked, as well, in the supplements – where they give "before and after" comparisons that are quite illuminating.
Then there's the cornucopia of supplements, the first of which is actually on The Godfather's 4K disc via a new introduction by Coppola himself.
But slip that Blu-ray into your player and you're in for a Godfather fiesta for the ages!
Here's just some of what's on offer:
There's also a bundle of older stuff, much of which is still well worth your time. It includes, but is not limited to:
This is definitely the set to have if you're a Godfather fan and have the equipment for it. If you don't, and have no plans to upgrade, Paramount says it's also releasing the restored and remastered versions on Blu-ray, with (just like in the 4K set) access to digital copies and the bonus content as well.
Copyright 2022 Jim Bray