|Dir:||Francis Ford Coppola|
|Star:||Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Sofia Coppola, Joe Mantegna, Eli Wallach, John Cazale|
|Cert / Year:||18 - R / 1997|
1997 marked the 25th Anniversary of The Godfather, and to commemorate this event, all three of The Godfather epics including the previously edited out or deleted scenes, were edited together and placed into their chronological order, to produce one, very long film, but a fantastic piece of motion picture history.
Taken directly from the literary bestseller by Mario Puzo, The Godfather is the story of a Sicilian - American family. From the arrival of an eight year old Vito Andolini in New York in 1901 after fleeing his home town of Corleone in Sicily, through his life and those of his son's, and the rise to power of the Corleone family in the Mafia until 1980.
The Special Edition begins in Sicily, with the funeral of Vito Andolini's father, who was murdered by a local mafia chieftan due to a disagreement, and the subsequent murder of Vito's elder brother for being the eldest son and vowing revenge for his fathers death. In order to save her only remaining child, Vito's mother goes to see the local Don. The Don is unfortunately unsympathetic to her request and kills her in front of Vito, who promptly runs away and goes into hiding. As the hunt for Vito, by the local mafia increases, a friend of his mothers manages to smuggle him out of Sicily, and sends him on a ship to America. Where upon arrival at Ellis Island, Vito is given the name Vito Corleone by one of the immigration officials. Then we travel forward to Vito in his 20's (Robert De Niro) working in a grocery store and living in a small apartment in New York, with his wife and son Santino. When Vito is sacked from his job, due to a local mobster requiring a job for his nephew, Vito meets Clemenza, a petty crook who goes into business with him and his friend Tessio. When their business starts to pick up a bit, they come to the attention of a local mobster who wants a hefty share of their takings, Clemenza and Tessio are naturally scared of not paying the man, as they might be killed if they don't, whereas Vito is a little more thoughtful of the subject. After convincing his two partners to trust him to go and negotiate with the mobster, Vito instigates a plan to protect his family and friends, and kills the mobster in his own home. Pretty soon everyone comes to see Vito as their Godfather and he is held with respect, honour and fear. Upon reaching his maturity Vito travels back to his old hometown in Sicily and avenges the murder of his family, to satisfy his honour and to protect his new family before returning to America.
I don't wish to say too much regarding the story as it would take far too long. But suffice it to say that The Godfather is much more than a simple gangster movie. It superbly chronicles the story of the Corleone family, and provides many perspectives to the family, at times you cannot help but feel sorry for family patriarch, as his primary motivation is to protect his family and his close friends.
In this form The Godfather is even longer, (in excess of 9 hours!) but it is a compelling movie, and the story is superbly written and Coppola's direction is absolutley flawless, combining some truly fantastic cinematography. It is easy to see why The Godfather Trilogy received 28 Academy Award Nominations, and was awarded 9 Oscars including two for "Best Picture". A superbly haunting soundtrack adds even more feeling to the charged script, and undoubtibly some of the greatest acting performances you are ever likely to see. Coppola himself re-edited the film into this format, and a lot of care has gone into it, the inclusion of the previously deleted scenes is a major bonus, these add even more depth to the story and help to tie up some of what you thought may be loose ends in the film's previous incarnations.
The special edition includes a 48 minute bonus video, "The Godfather Family" which is a behind the scenes look at the making of the films, and includes original screen tests by the actors, interviews and a couple of out-takes. Coppola obviously put so much into this film, and it remains to many as a true masterpiece and although many at the time were overly critical of The Godfather: Part 3, it is obvious that it was intended to be seen in the broader format and not as a stand alone sequel. The Godfather stands the test of time remarkably well and it is difficult to find fault with it as the one long film, it remains consistent and true to the book all the way to the end, which is quite likely to leave you with a tear in your eye.