The Godfather Collection (The Godfather / The Godfather: Part II / The Godfather: Part III)
DVD | Box Set
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Throughout his long, wandering, often distinguished career Francis Ford Coppola has made many films that are good and fine, many more that are flawed but undeniably interesting, and a handful of duds that are worth viewing if only because his personality
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I'm on the fence about this New Restoration Box Set(The Restored GODFATHER III is a cleaner version), but I'm leaning towards an all-out PAN of this New Restoration. Unfortunately, I listened to some of the reviewers here and purchased this Set. (A couple of you owe me a few bucks.) It doesn't look like any of the reviewers here did a side-by-side comparison test of The New Restoration and The Original Versions of these films on DVD. I did mine on a 50" Panasonic plasma.
Yes, the New prints have fewer scratches, dirt, and grain than The Original Set, (which is not as bad as some reviewers suggest). But, the COLOR ENHANCEMENT of The New Restoration Set is OVERLY saturated in many parts. Especially, in the Red Scale. Yellows and orange flesh tones are extremely pronounced, overly brilliant, and unnatural looking in this Set. And it still contains scratches, dirt, and grain. Not as much as The Original Set, but it's still there. A lot of the grain in certain frames has been removed, while other frames remain untouched and appear to be just as grainy as The Original Version. A very uneven transfer in my opinion.
In the opening shot of THE GODFATHER, the Undertaker is so overly saturated with yellow that as the camera pulls back to reveal Don Corleone's desk, it renders The Undertaker almost out of focus. Trust me, this shot looks far better in The Original Set. Compare the shot in THE GODFATHER of Luca Brasi in his apartment, donning his bulletproof vest, in preparation for his meeting with Sollozzo. The colors in The Original Version look natural, while The Restoration renders Luca's apartment in a blazing wash of bright sunshine yellow. These frames are entirely over-saturated with color. I assure you, certain frames of this Restoration DO NOT look anything like the Original film stock print. The warm and natural looking sepia tone of The Original film has been blasted away with digital color in many frames, almost making them look unreal.
THE GODFATHER II has been compressed onto one disc, while The Original Version was compressed onto 2 discs.
(By the way, I could care less about The TV Saga Version. It's not the way these films were shot, and it's not the way they were intended to be seen.)
Some frames of The New Restoration look very grainy, some look incredible, while other frames make these films appear as if Ted Turner Colorized them. At times, I wasn't sure if I was watching THE GODFATHER, or SPEED RACER.
Is this version worth a Double Dip? I'm still on the fence about that. But, I think I prefer The Original Box Set over this half-baked attempt at improving this Classic with an over-saturation of color.
I get the feeling that The Blu-ray Version must look really odd. Blu-ray is great technology for newer films. Older films tend to suffer from over-saturation with this technology. The public is so enamoured with Blu-ray, they don't realize some of the classic older films don't resemble their original celluloid color exposures anymore. And that's a shame. It's going to take some more time before remastering technicians understand the remastering treatment that some of these classic older films deserve. Sometimes less is more.
If you must have The Restoration, turn the brightness and color way down on your TV.
I'm calling this THE GODFATHER: THE COPPOLA VIDEO GAME GIFTSET.
There is no question that this Standard DVD Remastered Version is overly saturated with color. Here is a pretty SIMPLE ADJUSTMENT SOLUTION that seems to work quite well, reproduces truer color, and makes these Remastered films much more enjoyable. At least it did on my 50" Panasonic Viera plasma. (I also use this for The Anniversary Remaster of SCARFACE which is also overly saturated with color.) Stay away from the VIVID and CINEMA Picture Settings. Use the STANDARD Picture Setting which will give you the following numbers: Picture 50, Brightness 50, Color 50, Tint 0, and Sharpness 75. Simply tune the COLOR setting down from 50 to 35. I found that changes to the other settings were not necessary. This should take care of the overly saturated playback color issue. I do not know whether this adjustment will work as well with an LCD, Projection, Tube TV, or Blu-Ray Disc.
Carried over from the original set are all of Francis Ford Coppola's commentary tracks for the three films. On The Godfather one, he appropriately enough, starts off by talking about the film's famous opening scene and how it was supposed to start with the wedding but a friend suggested he do something else. Coppola talks about how he organized the elaborate wedding sequence and shot it only 2-3 days! He talks about the pressure he was under by the studio and in read danger of being fired because they didn't like what he was doing. This is pretty solid track that we've come to expect from the veteran filmmaker.
Coppola's contributes another excellent commentary for The Godfather Part II. Initially, he had no interest in doing a sequel and dealing with studio bureaucracy. He suggested Martin Scorsese for the job. The studio balked at this idea and accepted all of Coppola's terms. The veteran filmmaker talks at length about the development of the Corleone family from Part I. Coppola is engaging and very articulate, delivering a top notch track that is well worth a listen for any fan of this movie.
Finally, there is Coppola's commentary for The Godfather Part III. One of the heated debates the filmmaker had with the studio was over Pacino's hair. He wanted Michael to look older and like a man in crisis, while the studio didn't want to mess with Pacino's distinctive looks. Coppola defends his casting of Sofia and feels that she delivered a "real" performance because she wasn't an actor. He also addresses the scathing criticism she received as in fact an attack on him. This is a solid track with good observations and analysis by Coppola -- better than the film itself.
The rest of the supplemental material is spread out of two discs. Thankfully for those who did not buy the first box set all of the extras from it have been carried over with a whole other disc of brand new material.
The fourth disc features all the brand new material and starts off with "Godfather World," which takes a look at how The Godfather films influenced popular culture, including parodies on The Simpsons and South Park, and how it informed the characters on The Sopranos. All kinds of celebrities, from William Friedkin and Alec Baldwin to author Sarah Vowell who sing its praises with clips of shows and films that reference it.
"The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't" tells the story of how Hollywood had changed at the end of the 1960s with the demise of the studio moguls and the rise of the film brats, the first generation of film students who became filmmakers. One of them, Coppola, ended up being picked to direct The Godfather. This is an excellent look at how the director almost didn't get the gig and why.
"...When the Shooting Stopped" examines the post-production phase of the first film. Coppola battled with the studio over the length of it. Executives initially did not like Nino Rota's score for the film and samples of some of his original and revised cues are played.
"Emulsional Rescue: Revealing The Godfather" takes a look at the newly restored transfers for Part I and II and how they preserve Gordon Willis' gorgeous cinematography. This featurette takes us through the restoration process, showing before and after examples.
"The Godfather on the Red Carpet" is a forgettable featurette shot during the premiere of Cloverfield with various minor celebrities gush about the films.
"Four Short Films on The Godfather" features celebs citing which one they prefer, Part I or II. Another one has Richard Belzer, and the man who adapted the films for the stage, quote their favourite lines, which turns out to be quite funny. The third one sees Coppola talk about his love of cannoli and how made it into the film. Finally, Coppola answers the question about what happened to Clemenza in Part II and why he died.
The fifth disc starts off with "A Look Inside," a feature-length documentary about The Godfather trilogy done when Part III was being made. As a result, a lot of the major players were interviewed. We see Coppola at work on this film with on-set footage of the director working with Pacino. We also see Coppola working on the script with author Mario Puzo. The doc then goes back to the first film with Coppola's battle with the studio over casting Brando, Pacino, et al. with fascinating vintage screen tests and rehearsal footage. This is an excellent extra that goes into great detail.
"On Location" revisits key locations in the lower east side of New York where they shot parts of all three films and how they transformed them into various historical periods.
"Francis Coppola's Notebook" examines how he adapted Puzo's book into the first film. Coppola shows us his notebook that he used as his master document that he would constantly refer to. This featurette provides fascinating insight into the man's creative process.
"Music of The Godfather" features an audio excerpt of a conversation Coppola had with composer Nino Rota about the music for the film. Also included is footage of composer Carmine Coppola (Francis' father) working on Part III. Francis talks about working with his father.
"Coppola and Puzo on Screenwriting" features the author talking about the origins of his novel while Coppola discusses adapting it with Puzo into the films.
"Gordon Willis on Cinematography" features the man talking his approach to the look of the film and the choices he made and why.
"Storyboards - Godfather Part II and Part III" allows you to see sketches for the look of both films and see how Coppola planned to shoot them.
"The Godfather: Behind the Scenes 1971" is a vintage promotional featurette done at the time of the production of the first film. This is a fantastic snapshot of the times.
"The Filmmakers" are text biographies of key crew members.
Also included are 30 additional scenes from the four eras, spanning the entire trilogy. Much of this footage was inserted into the first two films when they were shown on television.
"The Family" gives you a handy organization chart for the Corleone family. You can see who everyone is and how they are related.
Finally, there are "Galleries" with trailers for all three films, stills, a collection of portraits of enemies of the Corleone family, and footage of the Academy Awards wins for the first two Godfather films.