BLU-RAY REVIEW: The GODFATHER TRILOGY: THE COPPOLA RESTORATION.

Paramount Home Entertainment
Release date: September 23, 2008
MSRP: $124.99

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, James Cann, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach

The Godfather films are not simply classics, but actual American cinematic icons. With this in mind, I am not going to review the actual films, you either like them or you don’t (Freak!). I suppose there may be two or three of you that have just awoke from a four decade coma and thus have not seen them.

If this is the case, then they are somewhere on your hundred page list of things to see (hopefully near the top).

What I am going to talk about as the contents and quality.

Part one and two are over three decades old. Until recently film preservation was a bit of a joke…no, forget the bit part, it was a joke. As a result, the original negatives had deteriorated severely over the years.

As a result, most of us that did not them in the theaters have had no idea what the films looked like when in their prime.

But the technological advances of the last decade have allowed the classics of old to be restored to their original glory.

A few years ago, Francis Ford Coppola reached out to his good friend Steven Spielberg (who had a business relationship with Paramount) and asked for his help in getting these films restored.

Under the supervison of Robert Harris Each frame was digitally copied and then reconstructed. I doubt I could explain just how big, and time-consuming, an undertaking this was.

Coppola and cinematographer Gordon Willis were both consulted every step of the way, with each approving the final product.

While obviously degradation would be bad for any film, it had an especially negative impact here because the overall look and feel of these films was something that was painstakingly crafted. The colors and textures were considered as important as the performances and story, helping to invoke a certain mood and provoke specific emotions.

So, having said all that, how do they look?
In a word: Amazing.

(Note: The image to the left is a comparison of the actual print and not indicative of DVD or Blu-ray image)

Before I go any further, let me point something out: These films (the first two) are still thirty plus years old. As I said, no attempts were made to turn them into 21st century pics, these are not ”perfect” but simply as they were intended.

The Blu-ray collection is breathtaking. All three have MPEG-4 AVC 1080p Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 transfer and look damn good. One suggestion: I would watch this in a dark room, the way that Willis shot the film really lends itself, in my opinion, to a theater-like setting.

The sound has also been competely restored and brought up to the 21st century: The films are presented both in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (Which my sad little set-up prevents me from truly embracing) and Dolby Digital Mono. It is also, in French and Spanish, here in Dolby Digital 5.1.

Extras:
Where should I start??

What we have here is a treasure trove of goodies, both old and new. Not only is every extra from the previous box set here, but new tidbits as well!

Included are Coppola commentary tracks, the deleted scenes, bios, storyboards, trailers, the photo galleries and the Family Tree…all of these classic featurettes have been brought on board.

With comes delightful new stuff like The Masterpiece that almost Wasn’t. This runs about 30 minutes and tells the story of the battle not only to get the original made, but also to convince Paramount to use Brando.
When the Shooting Stopped: A look at the post-production, including editing and music.

Godfather World has filmmakers and actors (including HOMER SIMPSON) talking about the films and their impact.

Emulsional Rescue (Horrid title) has Robert Harris (coordinator of the restoration process) talking about the process. Film geeks MUST watch this, as it is fascinating to hear about all of the steps involved.

Godfather on the Red Carpet has some celebs talking about the films. Personally, I thought this was pretty useless, no offence to those whose opinions are given.

There are four little segments (The Godfather vs. The Godfather, Part II, Cannoli, Riffing on the Riffing and Clemenza) that have additional interview footage and offer up some fun anecdotes.

There is also a Crime organization Chart giving us the rap sheets of various members of the Corlone family. Last, and maybe least, is wedding album with some photos from Connie and Clarlo’s wedding.

This is s must own for anyone that is a film buff. I cannot endorse this strongly enough. This package gives us everything we could possibly want and the restoration job should be viewed as a standard to be aspired to for future projects. THIS IS A MUST OWN COLLECTION.

ORDER The Godfather: The Coppola Resortation from Amazon.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.