DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

The Godfather

Add Comment 26 September 2008 by Joe Galm
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The Coppola Restoration

The Films

Those familiar with Francis Ford Coppola’s transcendental Mafioso masterpiece already know why I would label it as such. The cast of the anthology is arguably the greatest ensemble ever put together in the rich history of American cinema. Each actor puts a unique stamp on their respective roles and even the smallest lines of dialogue help transform the work into an incredible, atmospheric effort. Alongside our players, cinematographer Gordon Willis’s 35mm lens heightens the mood even further, creating a world and, more importantly, a film that is even bigger than the sum of its parts.

There simply are not enough words to describe the caliber of the trilogy that Coppola and company have created. By damning the typical mafia stereotypes that populated typical Hollywood outputs of the time, the story evolved into a wonderfully metaphorical tale, linking the progression and opportunism of an Italian crime family to the core of American capitalism. It changed the way that not only mob movies were made but also the way the public perceived cinema, and rightfully so.

The Packaging

Not as simplistically handsome as the special edition released in 2001, the Coppola Restoration features a blood-splattered collage across the classically black outer casing. It looks sharp, though a bit commercialized, especially with the very noticeable inclusion of our director’s signature in gold across the box’s bottom. While this may be a slight drawback to some fans who prefer the more refined look, complaints are unlikely to follow to the individual packaging of the disks themselves. The previously used cardboard has since been replaced by a more resilient plastic, which will certainly fair better with age. The familiar portraits of Pacino, Brando, and Coppola still don the inner casings.

The Transfer

While I cannot comment on the Blu-ray version (which I understand is immaculate), the new restoration is certainly a step-up from the prior releases. Under great scrutiny, the color-timed corrections create an added focal depth and overall clarity to interior scenes while allowing exterior scenes, most notably Connie’s wedding, to appear richer, brighter. The costumes, which so wonderfully capture the spirit of the era, appear to be more saturated in color, adding a unique level of naturalism to a sometimes flat palette. A more reddish tone is omnipresent throughout new transfer, which is due to Willis’s own vision, ridding the film of aged patinas and portraying the original film almost as it was seen in 1972. The cinematographer’s blacks now look even darker and more foreboding.

Menus

Not much change here. Viewers may select from the same three options as in the original special edition though the displayed images vary slightly.

Extras

Disc 5 of this set is truly where this collection shines. The supplements are now featured on two separate discs and while the first of which presents the special features shown in the 2001 release, the second has a plethora of new docs that are not only well put together but quite fascinating to boot. “The Godfather World” demonstrates the impact the films have had on the world of media in general. Several television and film personalities appear and discuss just how much the aforementioned masterpieces have meant to not only their lives but also society. “The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t” may cause serious cinephiles to recollect Coppola’s horror stories when filming his most ambitious film to date, Apocalypse Now. Instead it chronicles the hardships of 1960’s Hollywood and how difficult it was to get The Godfather made. There’s a brilliant bit on editing entitled “When the Shooting Stopped” and, my personal favorite, a technical look at the new restoration processes entitled “Emulsional Rescue Revealing The Godfather.”

While none of the features are particularly long, they do satisfy in terms of content and informational value. These discs may not see as much action in your player as the films themselves but they will certainly make a great addition to any serious collectors … well … collection.

Overall

Despite the amount of praise I’ve thrown towards this set, it still may be tough to convince some to pony up enough cash for it, especially if they own the prior special edition. If one has the means, the price is well worth it in my mind but the recent conquest of Blu-ray may require more casual buyers to wait until they make the upgrade.

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