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Godfather, The - The Coppola Restoration (Trilogy Boxset) Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 October 2008
Article Index
Godfather, The - The Coppola Restoration (Trilogy Boxset)
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[Written by AVRev] [START]
"The Godfather" [4/5 stars]
"The Godfather – Part II" [4/5 stars]
"The Godfather – Part III" [4/5 stars]

The original release of the Godfather films back in 2001 left me disappointed.  The printed source was aged and not restored, inconsistent contrast, the list goes on and on.  But now, just a couple years into the Blu-ray format, Coppola has restored the films.  While, they are not perfect, the improvement is utterly magnificent.  It is hard to imagine the trilogy looking any better than it does in this Blu-ray release.  Each film is contained on its own BD-50 disc, with only the audio commentary track as the special feature on the discs.  They are encoded with the AVC-MPEG 4 codec instead of the typically used, VC-1.

The bonus features cover the restoration process in great detail.  However, the films were transferred from the original negative to make a new master print.  The films were restored frame by frame, and while there are specks of dirt and smudges here and there, it is so minor it is not even noticeable unless you are watching with a critical eye.  Much to my delight, the black levels have been improved far beyond the DVD.  They remain strong and consistent, never faltering.

Controversy will surround Coppola's decision to boost the contrast levels of the film as way of stabilizing the image clarity.  A hot glow now surrounds many of the objects in contrasty sequences.  The soft filters used bring about a type of layer of haze over the film.  You definitely will not find a sharp image like more modern Blu-ray presentations.  However, it yields an appropriate image for the style of film.  Colors do suffer though.  They are dull and orange-ish. Despite the soft filters, the details of the image are decent.  The image has a texture that demonstrates the improved shadow delineation.

The above mainly applies to the first two films.  The third Godfatehr film is much more modern in appearance.  It lacks the texture and classic look of the first two films.  Filters have been applied to make it more consistent with Part 1 and 2 of the trilogy.  Still the film remains more saturated and detailed.

Best of all, the restoration of the films and their Blu-ray presentation, does not suffer from motion artifacting, compression issues, and most importantly – no edge enhancement.  The video quality of the Blu-ray release and Coppola's restoration process has far exceeded my expectations.  There are some questionable things that the restoration process did to the film, but overall, very well done.

"The Godfather" [3.5/5 stars]
"The Godfather – Part II" [3.5/5 stars]
"The Godfather – Part III" [4/5 stars]

The audio quality has also been given an upgrade to Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  Sadly, it does not offer much more than improved dynamics and sonic fidelity.  The surrounds and panning are virtually non-existent.  To be fair, I was not expecting much in way of audio upgrades, especially in the first two films.  Not only does it detract from the film's original presence, it would be one heck of a job to complete.

The discrete effects that are delivered to the rear channels (mostly echoed gunfire) is hollow.  Even the operatic sequence that draws the first film to its close only has minor bleeding into the surrounds.

The third films delivers the most in terms of sound quality.  The surrounds are much more active, with full dynamic range and some music score leakage.  Again, in all fairness, the first two films were originally in mono, making the TrueHD 5.1 feat all the more impressive.

Don't expect much from the LFE, but you can count on the sounds being clean and clear, with dialogue easily audible and well balanced.  I would not be off my rocker to say that the audio, as well as the visual, quality is about the best it is ever going to get.  That is, at least with the technology that is on the market and in development.

Bonus Materials:
Paramount has issued all three "Godfather" movies as "The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration," which includes a separate disc full of extras.  The Blu-ray collection contains all the special features of the 2001 DVD Boxset, still in standard definition.  There are also a bunch of new HD materials (which are also being presented on the new DVD release of the Godfather Trilogy).

Starting with the new HD materials, there is a 30-minute featurette called, "The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't" that details the troubles of pre-production.  This feature contains interviews a number of notable Hollywood talents.  The next featurette is "Godfather World."  This is an 11-minute clip contains a number of Hollywood persons raving about the Coppola creation.  "Emulsional Rescue: Revealing 'The Godfather'" is a 20-minute featurette that delves into the work required to restore and remaster these films.  "…And When the Shooting Stopped" is a 15-minute featurette covers the post-production process of these films.  "The Family/The Crime Organization" is a feature that presents the cast and character biographies.  This feature was present on the 2001 DVD release.  However, it has been upgraded in content and should count as new to the Blu-ray release.  "Montage: 'The Godfather' on the Red Carpet" is a short clip, and fairly useless of interviews on the red carpet of a recent film, with interviewees fawning over the Godfather films.  Finally there are four short films on "The Godfather."  In actuality, this section is just a collection of outtakes from the films.

The fourth disc also contains all the 2001 DVD release bonus material.  The commentaries by Coppola, one for each film, are presented on the corresponding movie disc.  Coppola's commentary tracks are fascinating; he's a very warm, direct person -- there's no sense of his standing on one side of the moviemaking fence, with the audience (you) on the other. He talks as though to a close friend, and after a while, you wish he were. Some of what he says is fascinating movie-making stuff, like the difficulties in planning and shooting the party scene. You realize how very hard it must have been to shoot the scene, while keeping in mind the need for character introductions and expository material.

The documentary, "The Godfather Family" is a 75-minute featurette is a look inside the trilogy, and should be familiar to owners of the laserdisc and previous DVD release.  There are about 10 "behind the scenes" featurettes which include: "The Locations of the Godfather," "Francis Coppola's Notebook," "The Music of The Godfather," "Puzo and Coppola on Screenwriting," "Gordon Willis on Cinematography," and the original "1971 Making-of Featurette."  There are also Storyboards, Trailers and Photo Galleries.

Finally, there is the Additional Scenes and Timeline feature.  There is about an hour of additional scenes, some of which are very interesting.  The timeline takes a historical look at the events of the three films.

The additional scenes feature is one of the most fascinating sections; unwisely, there's no commentary track, but otherwise, it's well-handled. There are even two extra scenes with Marlon Brando talking, briefly, with Michael -- these are both so good the only possible explanation for their deletion is simple running time. In fact, all of the cut scenes from the first two films are outstanding; the most charming is from "Part II," featuring Vito (Robert De Niro) and his associates visiting a gunmaker, whose son Carmine plays the flute for them. The gunmaker is Francis Ford Coppola's grandfather, and Carmine is his father; Carmine as an adult worked on the first two films. There's only one clip from "Part III," which seems curious and a genuine omission. But if you like these films, all these clips are sheer gold.

Like "The Godfather," "The Godfather Part II" is so magnetically compelling, the characters and incidents -- many of which are based on real criminals and their activities -- are so involving that it's very easy (for some of us, almost unavoidable) to watch these films again every couple of years.  Paramount's excellent "The Godfather Collection" on Blu-ray makes this easy.  Without a doubt, HIGHLY recommended.

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