For the first time in one collection, this is the essential, definitive saga of the Corleone family, overseen by director Francis Ford Coppola, and based on the bestselling novel by Mario Puzo. A global cultural touchstone captivating fans across generations, the enduring cinematic legacy of THE GODFATHER has immeasurably influenced popular culture, and rightfully earned its legacy as one of the greatest in the history of motion pictures.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, this mob drama, based on Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name, focuses on the powerful Italian-American crime family of Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). When the don’s youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino), reluctantly joins the Mafia, he becomes involved in the inevitable cycle of violence and betrayal. Although Michael tries to maintain a normal relationship with his wife, Kay (Diane Keaton), he is drawn deeper into the family business.
For thoughts on The Godfather Trilogy, please check out our discussion on The Video Attic here.
For additional thoughts on Mario Puzo’s The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, check out the review here.
All four films in the The Godfather Trilogy (counting Coda and The Godfather: Part III as separate entities) have been newly restored under the direction of Coppola and serve as a significant step up from their previous Blu-Ray releases. Paramount and Coppola’s production company, American Zoetrope, undertook a painstaking restoration of all three films over the course of three years. Over 4,000 hours were spent repairing film stains, tears, and other anomalies in the negatives, in addition to over 1,000 hours spent on rigorous color correction to ensure the high dynamic range tools were respectful of the original vision of Coppola and cinematographer Gordon Willis. The previous Blu-Ray release sourced from a 2007 restoration was spectacular for the format, but Paramount completely knocks the video portion of the set out of the park this time around with these new 4K UHD Blu-Rays. These new releases arrive with a magnificent 2160p/Dolby Vision transfer that gives these films new life. In an effort to not duplicate descriptions, I will largely attempt to group the films together while pointing out noticeable differences.
The video quality remains top-notch throughout these four presentations with no one film seeming like a step down in any regard. The filmic quality is preserved for all the movies in the set with natural grain, albeit slightly managed for a lighter sheen, yielding an eye-popping amount of detail. There does not appear to be even a hint of artificial sharpening with detailed textures coming through in all of the expected places such as costumes and the various settings with new details visible for the first time. If you ever go back to the old Blu-rays, the films will look flat in comparison to the almost three dimensional production design on display. Skin tones also look nice and natural throughout with an impressive amount of detail on display on the performers faces. Instances of softer shots are typically short-lived, and spikes in the grain only pop up in a handful of shots each film.
The Dolby Vision provides colors that pop off the screen with a wondrous vibrancy that make this set a real visual treat. There has been some debate regarding the less golden color palette present in these new restorations, but at this point in time Coppola has decided how this film should look and the results are pretty stunning if this is not a sticking point for you. Every film in this set has a chance to shine with nuanced interiors and vivid colors when it comes to the costumes and production design. The density that some of these colors exude is unbelievable, even in some of the more subdued portions of the films. Black levels are incredibly deep without giving way to any unwanted crush. With as many low-light situations as this series features, this is critically important. Likewise, the white levels hold together beautifully with no hint of blooming at any point. Compression artifacts, banding or other digital anomalies do not serve as a significant issue. This transfer allows a lot of texture and depth to shine through in the production design. These new 4K UHD Blu-Rays are truly a thing of beauty.
The 4K UHD Blu-Ray set offers all four films a lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 presentation which sounds incredible, along with newly-restored mono tracks for the first two films presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. The tracks truly impress with the nuance that is employed in the sound design of each distinct environment. Directionality of sound is never an issue with this film series, and dialogue is reproduced with supreme clarity. The iconic score from Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola fills the room in a way that never fails to stir something deep inside of you. The track offers deep immersion into the various environments so that even the subtlest elements are represented. All of the sounds are balanced well during the more active sequences so each element is distinct instead of a jumbled mess. The key set pieces and other smaller kinetic moments provide a pleasing amount of activity in the low end. The audio presentation is a wonderful experience from start to finish.
- Introduction: An optional new three-minute introduction from director Francis Ford Coppola is presented before The Godfather in which he talks about the trilogy’s enduring legacy, the incredible ensemble that was assembled, working with Mario Puzo, the crew that aided him during the film’s production, his decision to craft a version of The Godfather: Part III that more accurately reflected his intention and more.
- Audio Commentary: Director Francis Ford Coppola provides an entertaining and informative commentary track for all three original films in which he gives an all-encompassing overview of the creation of the pictures. Topics include the process of adapting the Mario Puzo source material in a respectful yet dynamic manner, the shooting locations they utilized for this material, the performances of various members of the talented ensemble, unexpected moments from the set, structuring the epic saga and more. Coppola speaks with a warmth and insightful manner which makes it easy to latch onto for over ten hours without getting bored.
The Godfather: Part II
- Audio Commentary: Director Francis Ford Coppola
Mario Puzo’s The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone
- Optional Introduction: The minute-and-a-half long introduction from director Francis Ford Coppola that was previously included on the Blu-Ray release is the only special feature provided on this disc.
The Godfather: Part III
- Two Cuts Of The Film In 4K UHD: Theatrical Cut (2:41:42) and 1991 Cut (2:50:08)
- Audio Commentary: Director Francis Ford Coppola
- Full Circle – Preserving The Godfather: A fascinating 16-minute featurette which delves into the restoration efforts over the last several years that built upon the 2007 restoration with the more modern tools that allow for even greater improvements to the source material. There are some great interviews with figures from American Zoetrope and Paramount which should be of great interest to film fans interested in film restoration and preservation.
- Capturing the Corleones – Through the Lens of Photographer Steve Schapiro: A new 13-minute featurette in which photographer Steve Schapiro shares some of his insights from shooting on the set of The Godfather, getting involved with the project, his memories of the cast and creative team, the film’s legacy and more.
- The Godfather – Home Movies: A nine-minute 8mm home movie shot in 1971 which gives you a fly-on-the-wall look at what it was like on set during the production of The Godfather. This is accentuated with the film’s score underneath.
- Restoration Comparisons: Two scan element comparisons are displayed here showing the differences between the 2007 restoration and the brand-new restoration. There is one set provided for The Godfather (5:19) and one for The Godfather: Part II (5:24).
- The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t: A 30-minute featurette in which various notable subjects such as American Zoetrope co-founders Walter Murch, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, then-Senior Vice President of Paramount, Robert Evans, and others discuss how The Godfather almost got passed up. You get a sense of where public perception was towards the movie at the time, where Paramount fared as a studio, the bickering that took place over production details, reactions to the film and more. This piece is a real blast and full of fast-flowing information.
- Godfather World: An 11-minute appreciation piece in which Richard Belzer, John Turturro, Steven Spielberg, Trey Parker, Alec Baldwin, David Chase, and many others discuss the cultural impact of The Godfather.
- Emulsion Rescue – Revealing The Godfather: A 19-minute vintage featurette which delves into the original 2007 preservation efforts including interviews with Director of Photography Gordon Willis, Allen Daviau, Steven Spielberg, film preservationist Robert A. Harris, and others.
- …When the Shooting Stopped: A 14-minute look at the post production process of The Godfather including the fights between Coppola and Paramount, some of the music played in the film, the themes that run throughout the series and more.
- The Godfather on the Red Carpet: A four-minute piece in which various celebrities from the premiere of Cloverfield weigh in the legacy of The Godfather including director Matt Reeves, actors John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Kat Dennings, Jessica Lucas, Natasha Henstridge, Jennifer Morrison, TJ Miller and more.
- Four Short Films on The Godfather
- GF vs GF Part II: A two-minute piece in which various subjects discuss the strengths of The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II and how they compare to one another.
- Riffing on the Riffing: A nearly two-minute piece in which Richard Belzer and his friend act scenes from the film.
- Cannoli: A nearly two-minute piece in which Coppola shares a childhood memory of the famous desert.
- Clemenza: A two-minute piece in which Coppola reads from a book about The Godfather and answers a question about a plot point.
- The Corleone Family Tree: An interactive family tree which you can click on and learn more about the family and the actors who play the characters.
- Crime Organization Chart: Another interactive piece which allows you to click on members of the Corleone family, view their rap sheet, and see a list of known rivals and associates.
- Connie and Carlo’s Wedding Album: A collection of photos from the wedding seen at the beginning of the first film.
- Behind the Scenes
- A Look Inside: A substantial 74-minute vintage featurette in which the cast and creative team really examine various aspects of the film, reveal behind-the-scenes footage, discuss delivering and capturing the performances and more. There are so many great moments you will not want to miss within this one.
- On Location: A seven-minute exploration of some of the real-world locations The Godfather was filmed.
- Francis Coppola’s Notebook: A ten-minute look at the notes that Francis Ford Coppola wrote down after reading the original Mario Puzo novel.
- Music of The Godfather: Two brief supplements including a tape recorded session between Coppola and Nino Rota (5:30), as well as a chat with Carmine Coppola and Francis Ford Coppola and a behind-the-scenes look at some recording sessions (3:17).
- Coppola & Puzo on Screenwriting: An eight-minute piece which features interviews from author Mario Puzo and Coppola about the process of bringing this material to the screen.
- Gordon Willis on Cinematography: A four-minute conversation with Director of Photography Gordon Willis in which he discusses his contributions to the film.
- Storyboards — Godfather Part II
- Storyboards — Godfather Part III
- The Godfather Behind the Scenes 1971: A nine-minute piece from the set of The Godfather as they discuss the fervor of the original novel and the act of bringing the story to the screen.
- Additional Scenes: 34 scenes of unused material is provided here in chronological order spanning the years 1901-1979.
- Galleries: Trailers, Photo Gallery, Rogues’ Gallery and Acclaim & Response
- Additional Material
- James Caan Screen Test (0:39)
- The Sopranos: A minute-and-a-half scene from the HBO series.
- Puzo “For the Money”: A six-second clip from the author of the novel.
- The Godfather Around the World: A minute-long look at dubbed clips from around the world.
- Cosa Nostra & Coppola: A two-minute piece which talks about Coppola learning about the mafia.
- The Filmmakers: Text-based biographies are provided for key creative figures.
- Francis Ford Coppola
- Mario Puzo
- Gordon Willis
- Dean Tavoularis
- Nino Rota
- Carmine Coppola
- Godfather Chronology: A chronology of events from the three films dating from 1892 through 1997.
- 2008 Credits
- DVD Credits
The Godfather Trilogy is simply a masterpiece of American cinema, and there is not much more to be said about it that has not been covered in the last fifty years. Even the weakest chapter has many moments of brilliance, and Francis Ford Coppola has brought even more respect to it with his recent preferred version. Every element from the storytelling to the performances to the craftsmanship is truly a marvel. The new 4K UHD Blu-Ray set from Paramount Home Entertainment offers a spectacular A/V presentation and an impressive array of new and legacy special features. Fans will be happy to own these classic films on the best format possible. Highly Recommended
The Godfather Trilogy is currently available to purchase on 4K UHD Blu-Ray and Digital.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Paramount Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this set free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.