I’m going to start with a crazy, crazy confession: I had never seen the Godfather, start to finish, before today. Nuts. I had a friend in college who loved the series and would have it on the TV from time to time, but I never was able to sit through the entire thing without nodding off or deciding to make my second packet of instant noodles of the day.
Today, as part of a series of Film Camps my friend Mike and I have been embarking on, I finally was able to view the film from start to finish. Below are a few impressions:
The Earned Beats
Coppola is a master at the craft of cinema. Here, it is eternally evident. There was not a single emotional moment, not a single line of dialogue, not a single murder scene, that did not earn itself. Every character we come across in this film had importance to the plot. The audience is given ample time to understand their motivations, and the reasons they act the way they do. This was a breath of fresh air to me, after a year of blockbusters that had messy plots (Suicide Squad), even murkier character motivations (Batman Vs. Superman), and a lack of earned emotional beats (Midnight Special, the two aforementioned films, and a host of of others, etc. etc. etc.) There isn’t action, for action’s sake, in this film. It is all purposeful. The Godfather is very easily now one of my all-time favorite films because of this.
The Look of the Movie
Oh, that look. That deliciously cinematic look! I watched the Coppola Restoration version of this film on blu-ray, and wow, did it look pretty. The film retains a lot of its natural grain, and the colors and dynamic range of the film footage is gorgeously done. It sends you, delightfully, right back into 1940's New York. Film-shot movies from before the 21st century always, always carry this inherent, whimsical magic to them, and this version of the Godfather charmed this new viewer to no end. I’m fairly certain I audibly gasped once or twice at just how beautiful this thing looked. So enthralled was I, that I just had to look up some background on this particular version and found that these films had been preserved and restored to their original, theatrical versions by film preservationist Robert A. Harris.
“The final product, which the studio is calling “The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration,” combines bits and pieces of film recovered from innumerable sources, scanned at high resolution and then retouched frame by frame to remove dirt and scratches. The color was brought back to its original values by comparing it with first-generation release prints and by extensive consultation with Gordon Willis, who shot all three films, and Allen Daviau, a cinematographer (“E.T.”) who is also a leading historian of photographic technology.”
I am such a NERD about these kinds of things. He had to hunt down tons of different prints of this movie to make this happen? Wow. I wish this much care was demonstrated for all other all-time classic films. This film is a treasure, and this blu-ray release gives the viewer an offer you can't refuse. I’m so glad I have now watched it all the way through.