In an offer that movie buffs can’t refuse, the Godfather trilogy received a digital makeover and has been repackaged on Paramount DVD and Blu-Ray. Already released as a 5-disc set in 2001, the new format and crystal-clear new transfers justify the double dip.
Headed by film archivist Robert A. Harris (at the urging of director Francis Ford Coppola), the digital restoration does wonders with the legendary material, resulting in the best-yet home presentation of the 1972 best picture winner and its two sequels. Gordon Willis’ famously dark photography looks better than ever, a fact made evident from the very first scene in which Bonasera pleads his case to Marlon Brando’s Don Corelone on the day of his daughter’s wedding.
Would that the extras received as much attention. The new package contains the supplements from the trilogy’s initial 2001 DVD release, which focused on the first two films’ storied production. The smattering of new bonus material explores the series’ lasting impact on popular culture, but not all of it is worthy.
It’s interesting to hear what “Sopranos” creator David Chase, “Take the Cannoli” author Sarah Vowell and other famous fans have to say about the trilogy in “Godfather World,” but do we really need the 4-minute “Godfather on the Red Carpet”? In this disastrous featurette, mostly B-list preemgoers (John Cho, Natasha Henstridge) are apparently ambushed at the opening of “Cloverfield” and forced to opine about the “Godfather” trilogy. The results are predictably haphazard, especially compared to the thoughtful, well-shot interviews of “Godfather World.” The superior segment also includes clips from the shows and films that embraced the “Godfather” mythos, including “SCTV,” “The Sopranos,” “South Park,” “You’ve Got Mail,” “Analyze This,” “The Simpsons” and more.
A 19-minute documentary details the extensive digitization process, which meant transferring the fading, crumbling ’70s negatives to state-of-the-art digital files. However, some of this will fly over the heads of all but the geekiest buffs. Another new docu, “When the Shooting Stops,” takes an in-depth look at the first two films’ post-production processes, including some juicy tidbits from famed editor Walter Murch (billed on the first pic as simply “post-production consultant”).
Coppola’s audio commentaries are very candid, but the box-art promise of “provocative” is a bit of a tease; these are recycled from the 2001 DVD edition. On a similar note, why does the new discs’ packaging fail to meet the same standards as the films’ improved look and sound? Four slim cases stuffed into a flimsy cardboard box do not befit an ultimate special edition. Some liner notes would have been appreciated as well.
Extras old and new virtually ignore “The Godfather Part III,” although Coppola’s commentary valiantly defends the critically maligned film.
Check out Variety’s original reviews of the “Godfather” franchise: