Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

In DVD/Blu-ray by Samuel Love

Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather and The Godfather Part II are among the most highly regarded films in the history of cinema. Winning 9 Oscars between them, they are masterpieces of the crime genre and simply untouchable. The Godfather Part III, however, has always been a divisive entry in the saga. Panned by many and defended by few, it is often seen as a convoluted mess with poor performances that ends the trilogy on a very sour note. 

30 years since its release, Coppola has returned to the editing suite and here presents a recut and restored version of the film. Now released under its original title Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, does this new version fix the original cut’s flaws?

Coppola always considered his Godfather saga to be a duology with this final part serving simple as an epilogue, and taking it as such does make any of its flaws easier to swallow. One should not compare it to the masterful first two parts, and instead take it as its own film. The Godfather Coda seemingly wants to reinforce this by minimising the references and flashbacks to previous films and focusing on its own story. This new cut hardly reinvents the wheel – on the whole, it simply moves a few scenes around and trims others down. The result does feel slightly tighter and flows marginally better, but mostly subtle cuts aren’t enough to fix the film’s greatest flaws. Sofia Coppola’s performance is still the weakest part of the film, while the lack of the great Robert Duvall stings more than ever. 

The film still feels undeniably like The Godfather Part III, with any of the purported differences to the majority of the film’s runtime very difficult to notice for casual viewers. Thus, while this new cut might not necessarily win any new supporters, it certainly won’t lose any of its old ones. Fans of the film will be delighted with the beautiful new restoration, breathing new life into the 1990 film. It looks and sounds absolutely gorgeous, and if anything it looks closer to the visual aesthetic of the earlier films – something that the previous Blu-ray failed to do. 

Those who’ve always hated The Godfather Part III should find it in their heart to give it another shot, something that is certainly a much more enticing offer now with this new restoration and tightened edit. There’s a lot to like here – Al Pacino’s quietly intense performance, gorgeous visuals and a solid supporting turn from the great Eli Wallach all make the film better than a lot of the 90s’ crime thriller fare, and while it doesn’t hit the highs of the first two films, there are certainly a lot of elements throughout that do hark back to the glory days of the saga. Just when you thought you were out, Francis Ford Coppola pulled you back in.

The Godfather, Coda offers a tighter and more polished version of the divisive Godfather finale, beautifully restored. 

Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is in select cinemas from 5th and 6th December, and available on Blu-ray™ and to Download & Keep on 8th December.