Part II of Francis Coppola’s Re-mastered Godfather series showcases the purpose of such a task – it’s a gorgeous masterpiece! Generally, I’m not a fan of re-releases. In the past, such a practice seemed merely a marketing tool for peddling yet more DVDs to the voracious collector who is unable to pass up a release regardless of how tenuous the reason (e.g. Uncut Version, 15th Anniversary, European Release, etc). That’s why it’s exciting to see the trend toward re-mastering emerge as a respected practice for esteemed directors to take another pass at their revered work, bringing new life to familiar favorites.
I have previously stated that it was the re-master of “The Godfather” that finally convinced me of its superior status above “Citizen Kane” as the greatest American film ever made. However, this does not close the discussion on the final titleholder for such a distinction. Now, the question remains between The Godfather Parts I and II. And, once again, the new re-mastered release helps to make the choice clear. Whether it’s Coppola’s meticulous eye tweaking the already near perfect, or the advantage of utilizing previously unavailable technology, Coppola has re-mastered the esteemed sequel into the pinnacle of his impressive oeuvre.
When it comes to preference with movies that end in a roman numeral, I tend to side with the first generation (the original “Star Wars”, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Rocky”). After all, they are the nests from which all subsequent installments spawn. However, there is the rare exception where the sequel not only stands as a satisfying story in and of itself, but also adds significantly to the impact of the original. Coppola’s second installment of his Homeric ode to the mafia is such a perfectly crafted film (mightily holding its own as a complete and independent story) that the numeric indicator is inconsequential.
Arguably, “The Godfather: Part II” is the finest work from the director who can be considered the finest American filmmaker. The re-mastered release only serves to enhance this distinction with Coppola’s dramatic storytelling and authoritative vision powerfully represented in every frame of Part II. Whether it’s the somber atmosphere of the opening Reno scenes perfectly mirroring the mood of the main characters, or the vibrant kaleidoscope of the Cuban sequences accentuating Michael Corleone’s increased paranoia, the filmmaker’s vision is ever present and well defined.
It goes without saying that the acting, the writing, and the cinematography of Part II is unparalleled and represents landmark moments in the career of the respective individuals. This quality continues in the slightest detail of every frame, which is so well attended to that you can virtually hear Coppola dictating preferences to the color timer, choosing every shade, every hue of every color down to the gradation of the darkest shadows. Clearly, there are no mistakes or happy accidents here. If there is a silhouette, a blown-out visual, or prolonged action happening off screen there should be no doubt that there’s meaning behind that choice, conceived and executed by a master craftsman. “The Godfather: The Francis Coppola Restoration” is the only appropriate showcase for such an unprecedented milestone of American movie making.Rating: A+