Update: Full review of the new "Godfather" on DVD and Blu-ray.
The revived films -- just released on DVD and Blu-ray in Britain -- return in the States on Sept. 23. "The Godfather" and"The Godfather Part II" were extensively restored. The lightly regarded "The Godather Part III" (1990) remained in excellent condition and so is simply remastered.
"Robert A. Harris of the Film Preserve supervised the restoration under the direction of (Francis Ford) Coppola and cinematographer Gordon Willis," Paramount said. Harris' credits include resurrections of "Rear Window" and "Lawrence of Arabia," both widely praised.
(Update: Read the comments for an underwhelmed overseas viewer's take on his "Godfather" DVD set.)
The "Godfather" trilogy Blu-ray set (four discs, $120) includes high definition extra features on the restoration and films' history. They are included on disc 5 of the DVD box set (five discs, $73).
Other extras are ported over from Paramount's so-so 2001 DVD release. There are slight differences between the repurposed extras on the DVD and Blu-ray sets, with the HD box having more content.
Audio is 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. The audio tracks for the first two films, originally in mono, reportedly had deteriorated quite a bit, so it will be interesting to see how much punch the restorations deliver. (In 2001, the "The Godfather" DVD had limited, mostly environmental rear-channel effects and "Part II" wasn't much stronger.)
Paramount lists the new (HD) extra features as:
- Godfather World
- The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t
- …when the shooting stopped
- Emulsional Rescue Revealing The Godfather
- The Godfather on the Red Carpet
- Four Short Films on The Godfather
- The Godfather vs. The Godfather, Part II
- Riffing on the Riffing
The titles have commentaries from director Francis Ford Coppola, which appear to be the same fine talks from the earlier "Godfather" release (still checking).
That's a good thing: Coppola's "Godfather" commentaries added to the already significant body of knowledge and lore attached to them. His comments are focused and instructive, at times stripping away a good bit of the first film's mystique.
Paramount Home Entertainment released "The Godfather DVD Collection" (review link) to much excitement in 2001. Individual versions of the three "Godfathers" were released in 2004 and 2005, but they offered no upgrades. Before that, there was an ambitious laserdisc set in 1997. Various laserdisc and VHS packages employed the chronological reworking originally used as a hit TV miniseries. The 2001 DVDs are the original theatrical versions.
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