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The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration
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Francis Ford Coppola's Masterpiece features Marlon Brando in his Oscar-winning role as the patriarch of the Corleone family. Director Coppola paints a chilling portrait of the Sicilian clan's rise and near fall from power in America, masterfully balancing the story between the Corleone's family life and the ugly crime business in which they are engaged. Based on Mario Puzo's best-selling novel and featuring career-making performances by Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall, this searing and brilliant film garnered ten Academy Award nominations, and won three including Best Picture of 1972.
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 is so flagrantly absent. Yet he is and always shall be known as the man who directed the Godfather films, a series that has dominated and defined their creator in a way perhaps no other director can understand. Coppola has never been able to leave them alone, whether returning after 15 years to make a trilogy of the diptych, or re-editing the first two films into chronological order for a separate video release as The Godfather Saga. The films are our very own Shakespearean cycle: they tell a tale of a vicious mobster and his extended personal and professional families (once the stuff of righteous moral comeuppance), and they dared to present themselves with an epic sweep and an unapologetically tragic tone. Murder, it turned out, was a serious business. The first film remains a towering achievement, brilliantly cast and conceived. The entry of Michael Corleone into the family business, the transition of power from his father, the ruthless dispatch of his enemies--all this is told with an assurance that is breathtaking to behold. And it turned out to be merely prologue; two years later The Godfather, Part II balanced Michael's ever-greater acquisition of power and influence during the fall of Cuba with the story of his father's own youthful rise from immigrant slums. The stakes were higher, the story's construction more elaborate, and the isolated despair at the end wholly earned. (Has there ever been a cinematic performance greater than Al Pacino's Michael, so smart and ambitious, marching through the years into what he knows is his own doom with eyes open and hungry?) The Godfather, Part III was mostly written off as an attempted cash-in, but it is a wholly worthy conclusion, less slow than autumnally patient and almost merciless in the way it brings Michael's past sins crashing down around him even as he tries to redeem himself. --Bruce Reid
On the DVD
People used to say this was Frank Sinatra's world, and the rest of us just lived in it. After watching the multiple special features in the box set The Godfather: Coppola Restoration, one might conclude it's actually time for a cultural and historical revision: This is the Corleone family's world. The rest of us better tread lightly. Actually, the point of the half-dozen or so features crammed onto a disc accompanying the beautifully restored The Godfather, The Godfather II and The Godfather III, is that The Godfather movies have penetrated popular culture in such a deep and meaningful way that they are second-nature to everything. David Chase, creator of and writer on The Sopranos, for example, describes in the featurette "Godfather World" that his hit HBO series was intended to be the story of the first generation of mobsters actually influenced by Francis Ford Coppola's hit trilogy. Joe Mantegna calls the three films "the Italian Star Wars." (Mantegna co-stars in The Godfather III.) Alec Baldwin says no matter what one is doing, one is compelled to stop and watch the films if they're on television. Richard Belzer calls the films "a religion."
And so on. A number of people similarly testify in "Godfather World" to the importance and ubiquitousness of The Godfather and its sequels in American life. There's no point in arguing, so its best to move on to the other featurettes, including "The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't," reviewing in detail much of what has been said about Paramount's mistreatment of Coppola, about casting fights (Steve McQueen as Michael?), about the studio's assumption they were getting a quick-and-dirty B-movie, and about producer Robert Evans' determination to keep his choice of director and unlikely actors under his wing. Fresh information within the special features, however, begins with "… When the Shooting Stopped," a fine study of post-production on The Godfather, with several surprising and fascinating facts. Among emerging details is an explanation of why Michael Corleone's scream toward the end of The Godfather III is silenced out. (Hint: it was meant to be the inverse of a sound effect in the first movie.) "Emulsional Rescue: Revealing The Godfather" talks about the painstaking work of restoring the first two films, beginning with a phone call from Coppola to Steven Spielberg (after the latter's DreamWorks studio became part of the Viacom family) asking if he'd request money from Paramount for restoration work. "The Godfather On the Red Carpet is a negligible series of fawning statements about the movie from hot young actors, while "Four Short Films" are brief and enjoyable takes on different aspects of The Godfather's impact on modern living. --Tom Keogh
Stills from The Godfather - The Coppola Restoration Giftset (Click for larger image)
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Top Customer Reviews
A marvelous restoration job, "The Godfather-The Coppola Restoration Gif Set" includes all three original films as they were presented theatrical. It doesn't have the version that Coppola cut for TV and presented in chronological order. THe first two films are masterpieces and while the third is severely flawed, it does have its moments.
Keep in mind that these were restored for theatrical showings NOT for the home video market and, as such, these probably aren't the best Blu-rays to use to show off your home video system. Some people will no doubt be disappointed but, quite frankly, these films have never looked this good before on home video. Is this a big step up from the DVDs? Yes and no. The Blu-ray does provide better resolution but keep in mind it also shows the flaws inherent in the original films (and some people will regard the grainy images as being a flaw).
First keep in mind that "The Godfather" was meant to look grainy so those of you who hate grain will probably wonder why they didn't eliminate it. That's because to do so would have required altering the look of the film not restoring it and the usual result of eliminating film grain is that you lose detail. The result also makes it look like the actors are walking wax dummies. Some scenes are much grainer than others but that's the way the film was meant to look.
According to Harris in an article at American Cinematographer, the original film was in extremely bad shape and, in some instances, frames from outtakes had to be subsituted because damage had crept into the frame area of the film.
"The Godfather Part II" was in better shape for a variety of reasons and didn't require quite as much work on it as the first film.
"The Godfather Part III" since it used different development techniques from the first three (and for other reasons you can read at the American Cinematographer website)and only required Harris to match the black levels and make sure the color scheme was done correctly.
Robert Harris has done a marvelous job on the restoration of the film. Colors are bolder than before with nice crisp images as cinematographer Gordon Willis originally shot the film. While the DVD looks terrific, the Blu-ray looks positively stunning. Does it look like a film released last year? No, of course not that would be impossible but Harris working with Coppola and Willis has brought the film into the 21st century without overprocessing the image (like the recent Blu-ray "Patton")and staying true to the original look of the original film elements if they were in pristine condition.
All of the previous extras from the boxed set have been ported over in HD along with some new extras including "The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't" documenting the difficult birth of the film from Paramount asking Puzo to initially change the period setting to 1970's Los Angeles to the constant threat of Coppola being fired during the shooting of the film. "When the Shooting Stops" covers the post-production efforts of editing and scoring the film.
THe humorous "Godfather World" has famous directors illustrated the cultural impact of the film and features bits and pieces from "The Simpsons" to "South Park"."Emulsion Rescue documents Robert Harris' restoration efforts of the aging film elements. "Four Short FIlms of "The Godfather" is amusing as well.
The 12 page booklet included with the Blu-ray was clearly designed for the DVD because it's much too large to fit in the Blu-ray holder (it's glued to the outside packaging). It's odd to design the booklet like this as you'll have to either trim it down to fit inside, slide it in where it might possible become creased or store it separately to prevent wear and tear. It has a bit of info on the Oscars for the films and the credits. It's an odd extra to include because it doesn't have anything truly essential NOT included on the Blu-ray or DVD boxed set.
I'd highly recommend this compelling saga on Blu-ray and DVD. It's a huge improvement on the previous set, has new and previously released extras (including Coppola's often blunt commentary tracks)and looks terrific. For those looking for the TV version that ran in chronological order just be aware it's not here as part of this set although many of the deleted scenes used to assemble that one are included.
I cherish my film library, in large part, because I have a propensity to buy the "better" versions of movies and other collectibles. There's another three disc Blu-Ray offering of the three part Godfather film and it currently sells for about $10 less than this one. The exceptional digital transfer quality is identical for both sets but if you are a collector of films, books, coins, etc. you know that saving $10 for a set that offers more, including better packaging, is analogous to those leather bound Easton Press books or your complete Glenn Gould or Arthur Rubenstien CD sets if for no other reason that you've got something on your shelves that represents quality, and if you're a parent, a quality library that your heirs will inherit and add to their heirs and so forth.
I bought this set in 2011 and have decided to write my review now, six years after purchase. I have watched the entire set at least once every year and two or three times in at least one of the past six years. I am not one to judge solely on cost. But even if I were, I'd still recognize that THIS IS THE SET TO BUY. Amortize $10 over God knows how many viewings and you'll find the true cost amounts at most, to pennies more and, eventually, even less that a penny more.
Even if the reasons stated in my first couple of paragraphs means nothing to a person, the buyer is, I grant you, paying more, but is also getting more which is the fourth disc of special featurettes ( “The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t”, “Godfather World”, “Emulsional Rescue: Revealing ‘The Godfather’”, “….And When the Shooting Stopped”, "The Family Tree/The Crime Organization", Montage: “’The Godfather’ on the Red Carpet”, Four Short Films on ‘The Godfather’, Audio Commentaries, Documentary: “The Godfather Family”, “Behind the Scenes”, Storyboards, Additional Scenes/Historical Timeline) so it's simply not an apples to apples comparison. And if you're that true film fanatic , as I am, buying this set over it's less expensive scaled down three disc version; well the decision to buy is really no decision at all. It's a no brainer that you'll buy and cherish this set.
I also enjoy it when guests are over and compliment me on my film, music, and book libraries. It's far more impressive and enjoyable to me to look at them as opposed to my Roku or AppleTV film library, iPod, iPhone, or some other MP3 player, and my bookshelves versus my Kindle. When I drafted my will, I felt better about leaving these tangible items to my children as opposed "child # 1 gets my Roku", "#2 gets my MP3 player, etc as opposed to getting my tangible music, book, and video libraries. I think they'll appreciate what's becoming a lost art form far more too.
In economic terms this concept is known as the "demand curve" and/or "marginal utility". Which all boils down to, what's one's personal preferences and how does one calculate cost.
Anyway, These are fantastic films of which I never tire and in that regard, I think like just about everyone else on this review board as well as the review board for the less expensive set; except on that board you hear a lot of people talking about how smart they were to have chosen that less expensive one. I'm in the right place for me. Where do you belong?
So I called Amazon and after maybe 30 seconds on hold I was speaking with a very helpful representative who laughed with me and apologized deeply on behalf of Amazon. He told me that it would ship out right away and that I would get the shipping info to return the empty case at my leisure. And that was that, they were easy to deal with on the phone, the whole call process took less than ten minutes and the best part is it was shipped next day priority!
I called with a problem at 1pm on a Friday and had my replacement at my door at 11am Saturday!! 22 hours from call to replacement - Customer Service like that just simply cannot be beat!