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November 12, 2008
The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration
Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
28/6/200730/10/2008ParamountFrancis Ford Coppola
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby TrueHD 5.1MA15+Al Pacino

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Marlon Brando is The Godfather.

If you love cinema then it would be almsot certain that you would have seen The Godfather trilogy. Under the direction of Francis Ford Coppola the three movies capture the essense of the mafia more accurately then any movie prior, or since, these movies were released. If you've never seen these movies then read on for a summary of each.

The Godfather: Based upon Mario Puzo's novel, first entry in this trilogy will always be remembered for Marlon Brando's finest Oscar winning role as the patriarch of the Corleone family. This movie tells the story of the Sicilian family's struggle to stay in power in a post-war America of corruption, deceit and betrayal.

The Godfather Part II: Released two years after the first movie this movie is genius in its telling of two stories; the events of young Don Vito growing up in America and becoming the Godfather (played by Robert De Nero), as well as what happens to the Corleone family following the events in the first movie. With a runtime of 3 hours 22 minutes this is a long movie, but one which also saw the return of almost all the cast members from the first movie.

The Godfather Part III: While not has highly regarded as the originals this often misunderstood movie shows the attempt by Al Pacino's character, Michael Corleone, trying to redeem himself from his past deed. Can the head of the Corleone family, now in his 60's, retain power while running a legitimate business?

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The Godfather has been re-rated to MA15+.
It really is hard seeing this as a single movie, and indeed this box set packages everything together perfectly. With a stunning line up of actors it's no wonder this movie still holds up so well and while lengthy each movie is worth the time. Al Pacino appears in each of the three movies and does a superb job as Michael Corleone however it is also Marlon Brando in the first movie as Don Vito, and Robert De Niro playing the same role in the second movie, that also highlight these releases.

If you need proof about the brilliance of these movies one only need look at the Academy Awards performances. The Godfather was the winner of three Academy Awards including Best Writing from another Medium (Mario Puzo), Best Actor (Marlon Brando), and of course Best Picture. It was nominated for a further eight Academy Awards.

The Godfather II won six Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Art Direction, Best Writing Adapted from another Medium, and Best Music Score Original) while being nominated for a further five Academy Awards including Best Actor in a Leading Role (Al Pacino), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michal V. Gazzo, Lee Strasberg), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Talia Shire) and Best Costume Design. While not as well regarded, it must be remembered that the third movie was nominated for seven awards, but missed out on all of them.

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A very young Al Pacino in The Godfather.
Something to note about this release is that the rating has been dropped from R18+ to MA15+. There have been no edits made to any of the movies and are identical to those released as R18+ previously. While the movies don't have large numbers of death, those that are there are still pretty brutal, and parents should be warned that the MA15+ rating is certainly warranted. There is though, little sex or swearing.

The Godfather trilogy is one which is etched into history one of the greatest movie franchises of all time - and the pinnicle of the mafia based movies. While the third movie isn't as highly regarded as the first to it remains more then watchable.

The Godfather movies have each been restored for this Blu-Ray release under the supervision of director Francis Ford Coppola and it's fair to say that the resulting images are probably as good as the films have ever looked. Indeed by looking at the extras on this set we're probably lucky they are even this good at all. Colours are fantastic, even when you take into consideration the deliberate sepia tone given to the movie.

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Robert Duvall and Al Pacino.
Each movie has been encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec at Blu-Rays standard 1920 x 1080p resolution. The films have been given an open matte bringing them from their theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio to the fuller 1.78:1 to match widescreen TV's. The video bitrate hovers in the low to mid 20Mbps range which is a little lower then we expected, but one must remember that the first movie runs for just under 3 hours, the second for 3 hours and 22 minutes (with the intermission break noted we might add!), and the third for 2 hours 40 minutes. These are long movies. Still, perhaps some of the other languages could have been dropped off to bump up the bitrate slightly.

Is it perfect? Sadly I'm going to have to say no, they're not. At times we noticed some white specks throughout the films (case in point have a look around the 1 hour 50 minute in the first movie). There was also some inconsistent wavering in the image at times, particularly on the first two films.

The third movie, having been released to cinemas much more recently in 1990, certainly looks a lot better then the original movies with a little more sharpness, and a slighyly more polished look. This could, in part be put down to a slightly higher bitrate given the shorter runtime on this movie then the others. Having said that The Godfather Part III actually displays some minor telecine wobble when the Paramount logo and main title is displayed.

Each of the Godfather films comes to Blu-Ray with Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio, and the mixes are impressive to say the least. While the third movie was released on 70mm film with a 6-track audio mix, the first two movies were released with mono soundtracks, so they have been remixed for the DVD, and this Blu-Ray release. Dialogue and effects, particularly in the original movies can be a little muffled due to the original source material (Marlon Brando always sounded this way in The Godfather mind you), but we really couldn't expect any better.

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Al Pacino in The Godfather Part III.
Certainly one aspect of the audio that has been improved significantly with the improved bitrate though the Dolby TrueHD track is the brilliant music composed by Nino Rota. Indeed The Godfather's music is up there with the music by John Williams for Star Wars in terms of recognition, and indeed brilliance, and it has never sounded better.

Each of the three movies also includes German and French Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 640kbps as well as German and French Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks encoded at 192kbps on the first two movies. Each of these tracks is fairly impressive although they don't offer the fidility of the English track. Subtitles are provided in 10 different languages for the feature film including English and English for the Hearing Impaired. From samples throughout the movie each track was fairly accurate to the on-screen dialogue with only some brief shorterning of phrases for better pacing. Commentary also has subtitles available in English, German, and French.

While each of the three movie discs contains a directors commentary the set contains a fourth disc which is filled with additional content. First and foremost The Godfather comes to Blu-Ray with all the extras that were released with the earlier DVD sets (and bundled together on this disc as '2001 DVD Archive'). As well as those extensive featurettes a tonne of new featurettes have been created for this release, and presented in High Definition. Let's get onto the extras then...

Commentary by Director Francis Ford Coppola: Not a single commentary but one for each of the three films. Francis Ford Coppola provides a great insight into the production of these brilliant movies with details about the filming and storyline. It's a hard slog to get through each of these movies with the commentary, but it's well woeth the time and effort.

The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't (29:46/HD): This brilliant documentary which contains interviews with filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, as well as several actors from today. This looks at the difficulty with movie studios in the 1960's, how Paramount was sold off at the time, and how The Godfather project was plagued with concerns from studio personel prior to release before looking at the massive success when it hit cinemas.

Godfather World (11:19/HD): A look at the way in which The Godfather movies have influenced popular shows from The Sopranos to The Simpsons to Analyze This to Family Guy. A little too much 'praising' from industry lumanaries, but interesting nonetheless.

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Another image from The Godfather Trilogy.
Emulsional Rescue - Revealing the Godfather (19:05/HD): This is an absolutely brilliant documentary which looks at how The Godfather films were thought lost, and then were restored for the release on Blu-Ray with a great focus on the executions at the Italian Restaurant. Each film was scanned in using a 4K process, then cleaned up and colour timed.

...When the Shooting Stopped (14:18/HD): This featurette looks at the post production on the film which was a battle on several fronts including the editing and audio mixing. There's a focus on the rather grueseome, but key, horse head scene.

The Godfather on the Red Carpet (4:03/HD): Really a quite unnecessary extra where a list of actors on the red carpet for Cloverfield are asked about The Godfather. Pointless.

Four Short Film on the Godfather (7:20/HD): Don't be misled here these aren't actually films, but rather more like extended interview outakes on various topics. Interesting to get some different points of view including details as to why Clemenza isn't in the sequel.

The Family Tree (HD): This featurette shows a Corleone family tree. Each person can be clicked on to get some details and a photo of them from the movie, and details of the actors playing the part are also available.

Crime Organization Chart (HD): Like the Family Tree, this feature shows the criminal organizations featured in the movies as well as their 'rap sheets'.

Connie and Carlo's Wedding Album (HD): A series of 25 images from the wedding scene.

Behind The Scenes: A Look Inside (1:13:29): This is the biggest, and certainly a quite comprehensive documentary which was created in 1990 as the third movie was being filmed. This is a brilliant look at the production of the three movies, and the legacy that has been left behind. Unfortunately the documentary does jump around talking about different aspects out of sequence, and as it was made during the filming of The Godfather III, it doesn't provide a look back on that movie and how it is perceived today. Still, a wonderful addition to this set.

Behind The Scenes (46:44): Split up into eight sections (besides 'A Look Inside' detailed above) these include 'On Location' which looks at filming in real locations, 'Francis Coppola's Notebook' looks at the directors scrapbook from production, 'Music of The Godfather' looks at Nino Rota (audio recording) and Carmine Coppola's contribution to the music, 'Coppola & Puzo on Screenwriting', 'Gordon Willis on Cinematography', 'Storyboards for Godfather II & III' and finally 'The Godfather Behind The Scenes 1971'.

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The Godfather Trilogy restored on Blu-Ray.
Filmmakers (HD): Pages of text on the key filmmakers - Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo, Gordon Willis, Dean Tavoularis, Nono Rota and Carmine Coppola.

Additional Scenes: 35 (yes, thirty-five) deleted scenes are presented here and split up into four eras; 1892-1930, 1931-1945, 1946-1955 and 1956-1997. Theres a tonne of content here - too much for me to add up. Sadly they are only presented in Standard Definition, and some are pretty poor in quality. Still, they are a wonderful way to flesh out more of the storyline.

Acclaim and Response (8:39): A series of video clips showing Academy Awards acceptance speeches as well as a 1974 Network TV intro where Francis Ford Coppola warns of the violence and editing for TV, and finally pages of text listing the awards.

Photo / Rogues Gallery (HD): Photos from the production, and movie as well as the characters portrayed. Impressively these include text detailing each image.

Trailers (12:18/HD): Located in the 2001 archive these trailers for each of the movies have been encoded in HD, and are pretty lengthy. The trailer for the first movie is interesting in that it is only a series of still images with music playing in the background.

Easter Eggs (HD): Hunt around as there are some Easter Eggs to be found in the menus.

The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration is the definitive compilation of one of the greatest trilogies of all time. Despite not being perfect, the video and audio quality has never been better on this movies, and there is a tonne of extras to get through as well. This is a perfect addition to an Blu-Ray collection.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Paramount. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.