Mario Puzo's The Godfather Coda:
The Death of Michael Corleone
review by Bobby Blakey
There are few films in history that are as iconic as Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 masterpiece The Godfather, so it comes as a surprise that Coppola was able to hit gold again with the 1974 follow up The Godfather Part II. In 1990 Coppola returned to Mario Puzo’s world for The Godfather Part III which most consider to be the weakest in the trilogy. Now Francis Ford Coppola has gotten the chance to recut the film the way he originally intended it to be along with the original title The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.
The Godfather Coda follows an aging Don Michael Corleone who seeks to legitimize his crime family's interests and remove himself from the violent underworld but is kept back by the ambitions of the young. While he attempts to link the Corleone's finances with the Vatican, Michael must deal with the machinations of a hungrier gangster seeking to upset the existing Mafioso order and a young protege's love affair with his daughter.
Coppola and his production company American Zoetrope worked from a 4K scan of the original negative to undertake a painstaking, frame-by-frame restoration of both the new Mario Puzo’s THE GODFATHER, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone and the original The Godfather: Part III. In order to create the best presentation possible, Zoetrope and Paramount’s restoration team began by searching for over 50 original takes to replace lower resolution opticals in the original negative. This process took more than six months and involved sifting through 300 cartons of negative.
So how different is this latest version of the film? Most of it is the visuals with some scenes rearranged as well as removed to try to make the film unfold in a more cohesive way and it works. I know Sofia Coppola takes a lot of flack for her performance and by no means defending it or the strange chemistry between her and Garcia, but the hate for this film beyond that makes no sense to me. This new take does improve on some things like making the set up in the beginning make so much more sense, trimming the fat to keep it moving and a change to the ending that changes Michael’s fate in a new way.
It’s no surprise this new cut works better to the vision of what Coppola and Puzo envisioned it as not a sequel but a cap to the first two films ongoing story. This was always meant to be more of a separate story that just took us on the next and ultimate final chapter of Michael instead of a continuation and this cut showcases
that. It’s more streamlined to the point and just works better. Sure the issues with Sofia’s performance is still there and Robert Duvall’s Tom Hagen is still a hole in what should have been, but in this new cut the story is deeply rooted in Michael’s emotional journey to the very end. The ending also adds a new on screen quote that I think more perfectly wraps up this new direction of the film for the better.
As I mentioned already I never understood all the hate for this movie, but I know following the first two masterpieces as a sequel the same year as Goodfellas was released didn’t help its chances. This new cut sets a lot of things right in my opinion and while puts the nail in this stories coffin, I could already see varying options for a fourth entry that keeps getting discussed from time to time.
Grab your copy of The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone available now on Blu-ray and digital from Paramount Home Entertainment.