Movie: Picture: Sound: Extras:
Yet the movie, when I finally made my way to it, proved to utterly faithful to the book with omissions only for length. This movie is not perfect, but it is as close to perfection in a movie as any human being could ever hope to make.
At the moment, you can only buy the Blu-ray version of this movie as part of the four disc box set, 'The Godfather - The Coppola Restoration'. As such, you also get Parts II and III of the movie and a disc of special extras. Part II is basically about as good the first movie. Both movies occupy two of the top three places of the Internet Movie Database Top 250 list. Part III is often remarked upon with contempt, but in fact it is a decent enough movie that merely fails to rise quite to the heights of the first two parts.
Something out of the experience of most movie companies happened in the 1980s: their back catalogue unexpectedly assumed value. The reason: VHS sales and rentals. Then, in the late 1990s, with the introduction of DVD, the picture quality became important.
This presented a problem, because without much importance originally placed on the back catalogue the master film copies weren't treated well (Disney excepted, since they re-release theirs for each new generation of kiddies). The Godfather had suffered. My DVD copy of the 2001 release was weak, pale, and low of contrast and resolution.
The 'Coppola Restoration' is the result of a year of work in attempting to restore the print to pristine condition. The result is eminently watchable, but it remains grainy, especially in the darker scenes, and a with stylised Renoir-like colour palette during the opening wedding scene.
An eye-popping magnificence of picture this disc does not present. But it is the best you will likely ever see. So buy it and enjoy.
This is the video bitrate graph for this movie, generated by BDInfo 0.5.2:
The detail is from that last scaled version, and has not been rescaled again. The right side is from the Australian Blu-ray. This has not been scaled at all. Different applications were used to capture the two frames, so I am not comfortable comparing the colour between the two, merely the detail and sharpness. For visitors from NTSC lands, generally the PAL DVD is just a touch sharper than the NTSC DVD.
If you are expecting eye snapping sharpness from this movie, you will be disappointed. It is grainy and at times soft. But I will keep returning to the grain. This is on the film print, and since it has survived the extensive restoration performed upon the movie, I can only assume that this was also in the camera when the movie was first shot. Look, for example, at Marlon Brando's 'white' shirt:
The colour palette also reminds me of the kind of thing one sees in Impressionist paintings. While with sections the grain makes the movie look like the work of Georges Seurat, the next scene could have been composed by Renoir. I hadn't quite realised, or I have since forgotten, how spectactularly bad the DVD was. Note, this was not a cheapie. This is the fancy cardboard set containing all three movies along with a disc of extras that, I seem to recall, cost me in excess of $100 when I purchased it several years ago. It isn't consistently this bad, which makes me suspect that perhaps the problem was parts of the unrestored film print that were used:
This being The Godfather and all, I thought I'd stick with murder for the remainder of these comparison shots:
Seurat reappears here. It isn't just that there is plenty of grain, it's that the grains are so widely apart in hue:
I know, I know, in all of these I say 'ignore the colour differences'. But the (plentiful) blood on the DVD version simply does appear unrealistically orange compared to the Blu-ray version:
When I was trying to grab comparison shots of this one I came into some unexpected difficulty. Specifically, I chose a Blu-ray frame perhaps a second after this one, and couldn't find it on the DVD. Eventually I worked out that the fade to black at the end of this scene commenced quite a bit earlier on the DVD. So I backed up to an earlier grab:
Nothing like a bullet in the eye to make -- or end -- your day: