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The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration – Blu-ray Disc Review

September 16, 2008 – 7:30 AM - Posted by: Justin Sluss

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Blu-ray Disc Review

5 out of 5 starsThe Movie Itself has average ratings of 9.1 / 9.0 / 7.5 on IMDb
5 out of 5 starsVideo Quality 1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on THREE 50gb discs
4 out of 5 starsAudio Quality
Dolby TrueHD 5.1
5 out of 5 starsBonus Materials
are over 4 HOURS & mostly in Hi-Def
Rated:r
Year: – 1972, 1974, and 1990
Length: – 175, 200, and 162 minutes (respectively)
Studio:Paramount
Region:Region 1 (A)


Overall VerdictA Definitive MUST-OWN

Buy it for $49.99 @ Amazon.com
Buy it for $49.99 @ Amazon.com


— Review written by: Justin Sluss & James Segars



The Movies Themselves are directed by Francis Ford Coppola (“Apocalypse Now“, and “The Conversation“).

To summarize the three Godfather films is an incredibly daunting and potentially spoiler-filled task, one that I am opting to gracefully sidestep. However, for the sake of everyone out there that has no idea what The Godfather is about, I will attempt to give you a brief primer on each film.

The Godfather

A true American cinematic classic.

Ranked by the AFI as the #2 film of all time — second only to “Citizen Kane” — Francis Ford Coppola’s mafia masterwork has made an indelible mark upon the film making and viewing communities. It was Coppola’s introspective gaze and humanistic approach to the mafia and the Corleone family that made the film so iconic, memorable, and compelling.

If you didn’t know it already, The Godfather’s central focus is Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), the son of Mafia Don, Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). Being the first of three films, Coppola establishes the framework for a beautiful, tragic familial tale, that centers intently on the Corleone family as they struggle to maintain power amongst turbulent, and violent times within the world of organized crime.

Unlike most mafia films, it isn’t over zealousness or greed that sets the plot into motion, rather, it is a strict adherence to principles that triggers unrest within the Corleone family, as well as the competing crime families. Specifically, Vito’s reluctance to push drugs, and provide security for the dealers ultimately gives way to an attempt on his life. He survives, but due to poor health and his recovery, is forced to allow his sons to lead the Corleone family. Sonny (James Caan), Michael, and Fredo (John Cazale) seek to re-establish rapport with their fellow crime families, each in their own way, while exacting revenge upon the traitors who made the assassination attempt on their father.

The Godfather: Part II

Following in the wake of the successes of “The Godfather” (having won three Oscars for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor – Marlon Brando) expectations for “The Godfather: Part II” were remarkably high. Could Coppola match, or perhaps top his previous work?

The answer is yes. Not only did Coppola succeed in delivering a stellar sequel, he did so by expanding on the story of Michael Corleone through the delicate interweaving of flashbacks. The non-linear narrative served as a means to chronicle the life of his father, Vito Corleone, effectively mirroring both Vito’s and Michael’s rise to power, and their struggles to maintain order throughout their organizations, family, and communities at large.

“The Godfather: Part II” excels by all accounts. It not only strengthens the viewer’s bond with Michael, but it also manages to shed light on points of contention between the two Dons, in addition to their many parallel experiences. This choice by Coppola and Puzo allows for a remarkable amount of depth to be instilled within The Godfather universe, not to mention Michael’s character. All of this works in tandem to give the viewer far greater insight into Michael’s mind — a feat that would not have been achieved as easily through a linear narrative.

“The Godfather: Part II” remains as one of the greatest films sequels of all time in addition to being one of the greatest films of all time as well, which is no small accomplishment.

The Godfather: Part III

Often dubbed the “black sheep” of the Godfather saga, the third installment has met with a substantial amount of criticism, and for the life of me, I can’t fully understand why.

Perhaps it’s because no one likes to see an epic tale come to an end, or maybe everyone thinks they could have done it better. Either way, while the film isn’t necessarily Oscar-caliber like the first two installments, I still wouldn’t change a thing. The reason? Much like the film’s tagline suggests, destiny is unavoidable, and I believe the same can be said for the progression of the saga’s narrative. From the moment Michael became the new Don, his fate was sealed.

Throughout the third and final chapter of the story, Michael works tirelessly to achieve his life-long dream of legitimizing his family’s business, in an attempt to live a life free from crime and fear — a dream that slipped through his fingers the moment his father was nearly murdered. Suffice it to say, Michael Corleone’s desire to atone for his sins, are too little too late, and whether or not he ultimately dies at the hands of his enemies, or peacefully in his sleep, it’s readily apparent that there will be no salvation for him.

I thoroughly enjoyed the way that Coppola deftly tied off the Michael Corleone story, and I personally believe that the resulting film is both a powerful bookend to the series, as well as a somber, tragic Shakespearean-like tale of a man who yearns for redemption, but receives very little in return. Because of this alone, I think that The Godfather: Part III is far better than most people are willing to acknowledge.

Overall

As you might have guessed from the synopses above, the story of the Corleone family is so epic, and detailed that it barely fits within the cumulative running times of the three films. Even then, much is left to the imagination with regard to the goings-on throughout the gaps in time between the three films — though Mark Winegardner’s recent novels (The Godfather’s Return, and The Godfather’s Revenge) do a rather commendable job stringing the three films together, should you be so inclined to read them.

What I find most impressive about “The Godfather”, is it’s profound legacy, and its extensive influence on the “Gangster Film” genre. Were it not for “The Godfather”, there’s little chance that the genre would have ever shed it’s pulpy roots and grown to become one of the most respected film genres the world over.

Each film transcended genre-based limitations in nearly every way, which ultimately redefined the way we came to expect crime dramas to perform. Because of this, they have been accurately referred to as “timeless classics.” But really, they’re more than just timeless classics. Many films have defied time, but only a select few have defined a generation of films as well – “The Godfather” is one of them.

The Bottom Line

If you’ve yet to see any of the “The Godfather” films, consider this latest restorative effort an offer you simply can’t refuse. If you’ve previously owned the films, and you’re wondering whether or not it’s worth upgrading, the answer is a definitive yes.

Synopsis written by: James Segars


Video Quality on this release is in 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. The three films in the trilogy are presented each on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte Blu-ray Disc) with a fourth disc serving as stand-alone bonus materials. This choice results in no compression issues to speak of which is very important to note when you take into consideration the lengthy runtimes of the first two films in the trilogy. There is a significant amount of improvement in comparison to the fairly recent 2001 DVD releases, especially to be noted in the first two films. The film, which bares an abundance of natural lighting sources (that are often dimly lit, aside from outdoors scenes), has a reputation as being a “dark” movie, and those scenes are played very well with Willis Gordon’s (Director of Photography) very inky black levels; detail is extraordinary in comparison to previous releases, though more significant in the second and third movie. International filming locations in Sicily shot to produce a piece of the first movie’s plot are breath-taking, with accurate color and detail, giving viewers quite a spectacle. There is also more film grain and noise in the first film, but this is a 1972 film, and this restoration in comparison to past versions, blows those right out of the water.

Fleshtones are very accurate, displaying the ethnic-olive complexion of the Sicilian family and friends perfectly. The color palette is extremely vibrant, with perfect contrast, for example, the rose worn by Vito Corleone broached to his tuxedo in the beginning stands out boldly, again with the solid black level, and does not appear to “bleed”. The restorists’ task of creating a palette that offers more for the eyes was definitely achieved, with a tone that is not too yellow or too pink at all. Certainly no signs of Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) or Edge Enhancement (EE) filters used; the budget for the restoration of this classic film was more than you will see in a life time (most likely), thus superior options were available in bringing this movie back to life. “The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration” on Blu-ray Disc earns itself a perfect “5 Star Rating” and is a definitive example of how to do a restoration correctly.


Audio Quality on this release is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (on the first two films). The third film does not contain a Mono audio track. The original musical Score by Nino Rota in the first film especially comes through amazingly well in the newly created 5.1 TrueHD track’s rear channel and bass presence as well as obviously the front channels. Point is that the 5.1 track is being used to it’s best extent. The dialogue throughout is delivered very clearly from the front center, left and right channels — which requires no volume adjustment. That’s a bold statement I know, to say that you won’t have to adjust the volume on a trilogy that spans roughly around 9 hours in length but it’s the absolute truth.

The first film involves mostly dialogue and not so much action as the later films in the trilogy. The sound effects, gunshots and even environment noises such as thunder and rain to the acoustics of a room size all sound excellent, very realistic (convincing). The fact that these film’s do mostly revolve around dialogue at times more-so than action does result in this not being exactly a release I’d pick off the shelf as something to demonstrate Dolby TrueHD. But with that being said I will admit it is as close to “reference material” for this particular trilogy of films as you’re going to get. This earns a very solid “4 Star Rating” for overall audio quality, which spans across the three films. No complaints here at all about the sound.


Bonus Materials are mostly presented in High Definition video (using the AVC MPEG-4 codec) and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. Some materials (namely those taken from the 2001 DVD release) are presented in Standard Definition (480i/p MPEG-2). As a result of the mixed video quality, I’ll be noting HD and SD beside runtimes on features or featurettes accordingly below.

  • Audio Commentary Tracks for each film by Francis Ford Coppola are featured which are taken from the original 2001 DVD release.

Disc 4 contains all of the bonus (supplemental) materials for all three films in the trilogy. The original 2001 DVD release materials are included (presented in Standard Definition MPEG-2) and there are ALL-NEW bonus materials exclusive to this 2008 release on both Blu-ray and DVD.

  • Godfather World” (11 minutes – HD)
  • The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t” (30 minutes – HD)
  • …when the shooting stopped” (14 minutes – HD)
  • Emulsional Rescue — Revealing The Godfather” (19 minutes – HD)
  • The Godfather on the Red Carpet” (4 minutes – HD)
  • Four Short Films on The Godfather” include:
    1. The Godfather vs. The Godfather, Part II” (2 minutes – HD)
      Cannoli” (2 minutes – HD)
      Riffing on the the Riffing” (2 minutes – HD)
      Clemenza” (2 minutes – HD)

  • The Family Tree” is an interactive feature.
  • Crime Orginization Chart” goes into detail about the different crime families in the world of the film(s).
  • Connie and Carlo’s Wedding Album” is filled with some old photographs taken on the set during the filming of the now infamous opening scene to the first film.
  • Bonus Materials below are taken from the original 2001 DVD release.

  • Behind the Scenes” is split up into nine parts.
    1. The Godfather Family: A Look Inside” (SD)
      On Location” (SD)
      Francis Coppola’s Notebook (SD)
      The Music of The Godfather” (SD)
      Coppola & Puzo on Screenwriting” (SD)
      Gordon Willis on Cinematography” (SD)
      Storyboards from The Godfather, Part II” (SD)
      Storyboards from The Godfather, Part III” (SD)
      The Godfather Behind the Scenes 1971” (SD)

  • The Filmmakers” (SD) takes a look at each individually.
    1. Francis Ford Coppola
      Mario Puzo
      Gordon Willis
      Dean Tavoularis
      Nino Rota
          Carmine Coppola

      1. Additional Scenes” (SD) are included from the three films.
      2. Acclaim & Response” (SD)
      3. Trailers” (HD) are presented in theatrical form here for the films.
      4. Photo Gallery” (SD)
      5. Rogues’ Gallery” (SD)


Blu-ray Disc packaging:

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  1. 7 Responses to “The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration – Blu-ray Disc Review”

  2. Good to see the resotration wasn’t skimped on, I will be honest, I have never seen any of these movie’s in their entirety. Ive seen bits and pieces but thats about it, maybe this could instigate me?

    By Mehar Gill on Sep 16, 2008

  3. Too cool. I’ve has this on pre-order forever.

    Is the actual case square the way it is in the picture?

    By charle on Sep 16, 2008

  4. Yep, I’ll post images of the packaging itself here in a few.

    By Justin Sluss on Sep 16, 2008

  5. Photos of the Packaging:

    Thanks for you interest and enjoy! Be sure to pre-order if you haven’t already, release date is September 23rd.

    By Justin Sluss on Sep 16, 2008

  6. I can’t stress enough how amazing this restoration truly is… but I’ll be updating the Video Quality soon with even more thoughts upon second viewing(s). Major kudos go out to Robert A. Harris who worked on the title and even does a great interview in the bonus materials on the featurette titled “Emulsional Rescue — Revealing The Godfather“. The interviews with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola are pretty cool too!

    :)

    By Justin Sluss on Sep 16, 2008

  7. Thanks for the pics(you forgot your watermark). A slipcover! very refined indeed. Speed Racer wins for slipcover of the year though(that thing probably cost Warner more than the BD25).

    I never thought Kill Bill would ever look as good as it does. Hopefully the Godfather saga will leave me feeling the same way.

    Between this and Iron Man with extras on top of the PQ/AQ(the films actually being good), you really get your money’s worth with Paramount.

    By charle on Sep 17, 2008

  8. Added new Hi-Res shots to the review. Click on an image above to see a 1920 wide shot. These are studio stills that don’t represent the restoration here totally but are still very pleasant to see and gives you a slight idea of the amount of detail present.

    By Justin Sluss on Sep 17, 2008

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