01st Dec2020

‘The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone’ Blu-ray Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Sophia Coppola | Written by Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola | Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Let’s take a cheeky rare trip down memory lane as Paramount Entertainment prepare to release Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo’s The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone… My first ever experience with The Godfather trilogy was as a young lad when I discovered the old man’s 4-part VHS box set whereby it was edited chronological, from a young Vito through to an old Michael! This for me is far and away the best way to watch the movies. As a burgeoning filmaholic I had never seen movies like this before. People talking for days, ceremony sequences that literally take up 40-50 minutes of the movie, very little action and insane performances that from top to bottom deserve Oscars. All I really knew was that Pacino and De Niro were in them and my world view of cinematic masterpieces was about to change…

They don’t come much more perfect than this trilogy of movies and while there is a fair bit of unjustified heat that flows in Part 3’s direction I personally was never one of those people. Yes, I do rate it as the third best of the trilogy but I always loved this one. It’s the summation of a mans life work, a look at what his legacy will be but most importantly it ties up the loose ends of the Corleone story. Was it a tad rushed towards the end? Sure I can agree with that… Am I a fan of director Francis Ford Coppola casting his daughter in such a huge pivotal role? Not really, honestly she lacked the skill set at this point but I was more upset about the void left by Robert Duvall not returning.

Here we are a mere 30 years since it’s original release and the long, quietly spoken of, version that Coppola and Mario Puzo had set out to make is being released as a remastered, re-cut and in some places re-scored glorious 4k scan boasting a new beginning, rearrangement of scenes, addition of scenes and a new ending. In order to create the best presentation possible, Zoetrope and Paramount’s restoration team began by searching for over 50 original takes to replace lower resolution opticals in the original negative. This process took more than six months and involved sifting through 300 cartons of negative. American Zoetrope worked diligently to repair scratches, stains, and other anomalies that could not be addressed previously due to technology constraints, while enhancements were made to the original 5.1 audio mix.

The question being, was it worth the 6 month task of the restoration? Does it really change anything? How does an epic gangster movie made in the early 90s hold up in 2020? Let’s find out…

OK. So. The Godfather Part 3 is now 30 years old and I’m guessing if you have not seen it by now you most likely won’t. So with this in mind I will give you a very brief synopsis of The Godfather Coda! It’s roughly 20 years since the events of Part 2 and we find Micheal (Al Pacino) in his 60s. Done with “the life”, the demons and the pain that comes with it, he is seeking to completely legitimize himself and find a suitable candidate to take over his legacy. On the brink of signing a deal with a Vatican owned property company it would seem the Corleone family are on the up. Enter Vincent Mancini (Andy Garcia) the hot headed bastard son of Sonny Corleone. With Vinny comes a big problem in Joey Zasa (Joe Mantegna) a man who could up end everything. Just when he thought he was out, they pull him right back in but is his true enemies face yet to be revealed?

It has probably been a good ten years and change since I actually sat down to watch The Godfather trilogy (I tend to do all three together when possible). However it’s still as fresh in my mind as it was the first time I saw it; and apart from the title change the first thing you get a real sense of is Coppola and Puzo always intended to flesh out the Immobiliare takeover story line. In fact I would say this is where the bulk of the extra scenes and changes come into play.

I have got to say though for a 30-year old movie, this still feels as grand and as epic as it did back then; a true testament to the brilliance of Coppola and his DOP Gordon Willis. I put this on at 10 o’clock at night forgetting it was a good 2 hours and 45 minutes long (though The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone actually clocks in around 8 minutes shorter) you know what? It didn’t feel that long at all. This restoration is absolutely stunning which is not surprising with it taking an estimated 6 months to complete and was painstakingly done frame by frame.

I loved part 3 back when it was released. I mean how can you not with the sheer talent and performances on show? Al Pacino smashing it out the park (that silenced scream man). Andy Garcia on his way up to the top of his game and so many more. The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone does clean up some of the sloppy moments with some clever movements of scenes that, to me, always just seemed a bit too pleased with themselves. My only real issue still remains though and that is Sophia Coppola as Mary Corleone. I’m sorry, she didn’t have the quality needed to hang with Pacino, Garcia (they could not sell this romance) or Keaton BUT and *SPOILER ALERT* her death is still as gut wrenching today as it was 30 years ago.

There are a lot of small changes made in The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone and they make sense but my absolute favourite is that ending right before we fade to black. I’m sure all they have done is fade out a touch earlier but honestly I don’t need to see Michael die and keel over in his chair; so this change was for me because the movie itself overall IS the death of Micheal Corleone. Honestly I don’t need to see his literal death, its like showing me if Tony got shot in The Sopranos… Oh shit it just occurred to me that the die hard Sopranos fans who just instantly love The Godfather are gonna hate this change!

Overall I am happy that Coppola has had the chance to re-imagine his original vision. Even if these are only small changes, it’s good to know we finally have the definitive trilogy as intended. I’m guessing there’s plenty of people, myself included, who one can’t wait for the official Blu-Ray release next week; because the completionist in me needs this in my life! Maybe they can get to work on a chronological edit for me next?!

I am a huge Godfather fan and have purchased just about every version over the years and this remaster has taken the movie to another level. I am happy…

***** 5/5

The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is available on Blu-ray and to Download & Keep from December 7th.


Comments are closed.