175 minutes | Rated: R
Rereleased: Friday, March 21, 1997
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Richard Conte, John Marley, Abe Vigoda
SMALL SCREEN SHRINKAGE: 10%|
Gordon Willis' cinematography is so beautiful the film really deserves to be seen as cinematically as possible, but the intensity of the classic story and the knockout performances will leap off any size screen. A keeper if there ever was one.
DVD RELEASE: 10.09.2001
Coppola's commentary tracks prove how DVD commentary only gets better with several years reflection. Packed with insights, information and memories, but concise enough that he doesn't overwhelm the film as you watch. (Better yet, the film's audio hasn't been cranked down so far you can't hear it when he's talking.) Only complaint: He repeats himself a lot.|
OTHER NOTABLE BONUS MATERIAL
75m making-of from 1990 (for the release of "III"). 1971 behind-the-scenes for part "I." Location-shooting featurette w/ production designer. Featurette of Coppola taking us through the huge notebook he used as his bible while shooting "I". Coppola's audio tapes of meetings w/ composers. Coppola & Puzo on screenwriting. Gordon Willis on cinematography. Storyboards for "I" & "II." Chronology of the Corleone family. 30 deleted scenes in chronological order w/ context provided for where the scenes would have appeared in the films. Oscar acceptance speeches. Trailers. Coppola's intro for his TV broadcast edit. And - if you can believe it - MORE.
(not enhanced for 16:9 TVs)
DVD RATING: ****
Coppola's Mafia masterpiece gets a makeover with Dolby sound and a gorgeous new print
(Note: This review was written for the film's 1997 theatrical rerelease.)
OK, so yes, with all the pontificating I do regarding movies, until this week I'd never seen "The Godfather."
As my excuse had always been that if I were going to see it, it certainly wouldn't be on video, I went in knowing that films like "The Godfather" are the best arguements in favor of this new fashion of re-issues.
Afterwards I spent the afternoon wondering what on Earth happened to that Francis Ford Coppola. The daring director once had such a grasp on subtle character interaction that in this movie a mob enforcer explaining his tomato paste recipe is captivating.
What happened to that guy and who is this fella that bangs out cheeze-Louise fare like "Jack"?
At the premiere party for "Jack", Coppola told me, in an exasperated voice like he was tired of defending his softer efforts, that he "wanted to do something that wasn't a lot of people getting shot." Admirable. Ten out of ten for social responsibility. But Francis, buddy, the stuff you did with guns has so much soul.
The performances Coppola got out of these young actors (Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire), whose careers were sent into orbit by this film, are extraordinary. We understand their every glance, their every thought, as their lives and their livelihood revolve around the inescapable influence of Don Corleone (Marlon Brando), the family patriarch and head of a powerful 1940s Mafia organization.
We become deeply involved in war hero and first son Michael Corleone (Pachino) and his struggle between virtue, loyalty and revenge after his father is gunned down.
When he opts for the later and personally takes out his family's rivals, he spends many months hiding in Italy while his hot-headed brother Sonny (Caan) runs the mob.
As the family business becomes mired in an eye-for-an-eye war, Michael returns to marry his long-suffering sweetheart (Keaton) and surrenders to his fate -- to take control the Corleone Mafia.
While the story, adapted by Coppola and Mario Puzo from Puzo's novel, has many compelling parallel tracks -- not the least of which is how Sonny's rage leads the family to tragedy on more than one occasion -- Michael's dwindling determination to make his own way in the world captures the imagination.
The discussions between Pachino and Brando in the family garden, as the reigns of power are slowly passed, carefully show both men's doubts yet betray the underlying knowledge that the survival of the mob depends on this transition.
Of course there is more -- a famously chilling threat against an uncooperative movie producer, Michael's secret marriage and misfortune in Sicily, the family's last struggle with honor while deciding whether to move into narcotics trafficking -- but if you don't know the story already, it would take far too long to explain. Just see it. If for no other reason than that it is one of the most worthy Oscar winners and an icon of American culture that deserves to be seen on the big screen as it was intended.
Those Oscars, by the way, were for Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando) and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Caan, Duvall and Pachino), Best Director, costumes, editing and sound (which has been re-vamped by Dolby for this 25th anniversary release).