The Godfather

The Godfather chronicles the lives of a Mafia family of great power, the Corleone family

One of the famous films of all time was also among the most requested DVDs, the Godfather Trilogy. Finally, it comes to DVD players in region one as a five-disc set. One disc for the first and third films, two for the second and an extras disc. To provide a synopsis of the films would take a book in itself. We all know the story though, The Godfather have generated some of the well know lines in movie history.

The Godfather films chronicle the lives of a Mafia family of great power, the Corleone family. At the center of this family is the patriarch, Don Vito (Marlon Brando). He runs his crime family with strict discipline, ruthlessness but also a sense of honor. Surrounding the Don is his family, Eldest son Sonny (James Cann), the heir apparent, Fredo (John Cazale) and just returning from the military, his youngest, Michael (Al Pacino). There is also the trusted adopted son Tom Hagan, (Robert Duvall) who acts in the role of family counselor. The first film depicts the attempted assassination of Don Vito, the circumstance that draws young Michael into the ‘family business’ and the tragic downfall of Sonny. The second film moves back in time to how Vito came to this country and started his rise to power. It also shows how left with no other heirs Michael moves into to take over his father’s position. In the last film the circle comes full round. Michael is now the Godfather and yet years for a simpler time. Now, the whole saga is out on DVD, something that will certainly push the sale of players.

The acting in The Godfather trilogy are the ‘stuff dreams of made of’. There is not a role, large or small, that is not casted with the absolute perfect actor. A role call of these actors represents a definitive ‘whos who’ of Hollywood elite. Brando, commands the screen in a way that brings us back to such classics as Wild Ones. The slightest gesture of his hands is so impressive that it has literally become part of the American culture.

Few films have had the impact upon the collective consciousness of the world as the first two films in this series. Pacino is the definitive Michael Corleone. The arc of his character over the three films is brilliant. From the young man home from the service that has always disdained the family business to a man past his prime that looks in the mirror and sees he has become the man his father had been. There is a sensitivity he conveys to Michael that brought new dimension to this type of mobster. We see the way he is brought in, his resistance and ultimate acceptance of his place. Without Michael Corleone there could not have been a Tony Soprano. While the male actors dominate these films, the women make a notable impression. Diane Keaton as the wife of Michael, blossoms from a rather naïve young girl to a woman that knows the score. Then there is Talia Shire who transforms from a young bride to battered wife to finally becoming a jaded social climber. One of my personal favorite female roles is Morganna King as Momma Corleone. She is the long-suffering wife of the Don. She stands by her man, the love of her life, no matter what.

At the helm directing these modern classics and writer of these perfectly crafted scripts is one of the true geniuses of film, Francis Ford Coppola. What a pedigree. The Coppola family has given rise not only to Francis but his daughter Sopia, no a director in her own right, and nephew Nicholas Coppola, better known now as Nicholas Cage. As a director Coppola could not have improved on a single scene. The lighting, framing and setup for each scene is now taught in many film schools and for good reason. The pacing of The Godfather keeps you fascinated even though these films are long. You are caught up in the films forgetting most of what is around you.

Since this collection of films was among the most requested films of all time for DVD (well, in the few years that there has been DVDs), it is only fitting that the collection be something special. It certain exceeds expectations. The films are mastered in Dolby 5.1 with anamorphic 1:85:1 video. The sound stage provided is robust and makes excellent use of all speakers. The sub woofer comes alive at just the right moments. Wait until you hear Sonny get it at the toll plaza!. There is an audio commentary by Coppola for each film. A 73 minute feature ‘The Godfather Family: A Look Inside". A lot of deleted footage never before seen. The Coppola notebook, Puzo’s screenplays, trailers and a lot more. The fifth disc is nothing but extras. There is even rehearsal footage and a Corleone family tree. Even the added scenes included in the TV Godfather Saga are in there. If you own a DVD player, if you enjoy films at all The Godfather, is a required disc for your set. The only film and sequel added to the AFI top 100 film list can now be yours. If you don’t get The Godfather Trilogy, you may wake up one morning with a horse’s head in your bed.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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