The Godfather Part II (4K UHD)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Screenplay: Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo (based on the novel by Mario Puzo)
Stars: Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen), Diane Keaton (Kay Corleone), Robert De Niro (Vito Corleone), John Cazale (Fredo Corleone), Talia Shire (Connie Corleone), Lee Strasberg (Hyman Roth)
MPAA Rating: R
Year of Release: 1974
Country: U.S.
The Godfather 4K UHD
The Godfather Part II

Two years fater the towering success of The Godfather, which quickly became the highest grossing film in Hollywood history and took home a rack of Oscars, director Francis Ford Coppola and novelist/screenwriter Mario Puzo did the unimaginable by emerging with a sequel, The Godfather Part II, which not only lived up to the artistic and dramatic excellence of the first film, but in many ways surpassed it. One of the great debates that still rages among film buffs is over the comparable merits of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II and which is the greater film, which is a misguided argument because the two films are not really comparable, at least in the traditional sense. Part II is not so much a sequel as it is an extension and deepening of the first film, giving that film’s events a richer resonance and a harsher context. Neither film could exist without the other, which is perhaps why, in the 2002 Sight & Sound “Greatest Films of All Time” poll, voters placed them together in the #4 spot, essentially treating them as a single film.

Part II is more thematically and structurally complex than its predecessor, as Coppola and Puzo took the risky but ultimately rewarding route of telling two stories simultaneously. One half of the movie deals with Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro, in an Oscar-winning role) as a young man, explaining how he came to America at age 9 after his father, brother, and mother were murdered by the local Mafia boss in Sicily. There, among the immigrants and tenements of Little Italy in New York City, he slowly rises to the power and prominence displayed by the character as he was played by Marlon Brando. Shot in aged, desaturated amber tones (Gordon Willis again acted as cinematographer), these scenes provide a groundwork for a more complex understanding of Vito Corleone’s actions in the first film, especially his dedication to his family.

The other half of the film follows Michael Corleone after he has assumed power of the family in the 1950s, sold off all their interests in New York, and concentrated on the gambling and hotel prospects in Las Vegas. By this point, his metamorphosis is complete, and if he appeared even more ruthless and dangerous than his father at the end of the first film, he is even more so at this point. Al Pacino’s performance turns further inward, as he plays Michael as a brooding man who has to make one hard decision after another while everything his father stood for slowly decays around him.

The Godfather Part II was made largely as a response to the criticism that The Godfather had romanticized Mafia life, making its seem too appealing. If that is indeed a trap, Part II avoids it completely by focusing on the deterioration of the Corleone family and Michael complete damnation by his own hand. Whereas the first film had rooted the family’s success in its solidarity and loyalty as a family, Part II shows how it begins to come unraveled at the seams once that solidarity and loyalty begin to falter, replaced instead with divorce, abortion, and eventually fratricide.

However, the film works at its most brilliant levels in juxtaposing Michael’s slow descent during the late 1950s with Vito’s slow ascent during the mid-1920s. By viewing the rise and fall of the Corleone family at the same time, with events in Vito’s life mirrored in the life of his youngest son, we get a full, epic understanding of the big picture—the grand American mythos of family, success, and destiny.

The Godfather Trilogy 50th Anniversary 4K UHD Box Set

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 (all three films)
Audio
  • The Godfather 4K
  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround
  • English Dolby Digital 2.0 monaural
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • French Dolby Digital 2.0 monaural
  • Italian Dolby Digital 5. surround
  • Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 monaural
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 monaural
  • Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • The Godfather: Part II 4K

  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround
  • English Dolby Digital 2.0 monaural
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • French Dolby Digital 2.0 monaural
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 monaural
  • The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone 4K

  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround
  • Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • German Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 monaural
  • Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • The Godfather Part III 4K

  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround
  • German Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Subtitles The Godfather 4K: English, English SDH, French, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish; The Godfather Part II 4K: English, English SDH, French, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish; The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone 4K:English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Thai; The Godfather Part III 4K: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Thai
    Supplements
  • Audio commentary on all three films by director Francis Ford Coppola
  • Video introduction by Coppola
  • “Full Circle: Preserving The Godfather
  • “Capturing the Corleones: Through the Lens of Photographer Steve Schapiro” featurette
  • The Godfather: Home Movies” featurette
  • “Restoration Comparisons” featurettes
  • “The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t” featurette
  • “Godfather World” featurette
  • “Emulsion Rescue: Revealing The Godfather” featurette
  • “...When the Shooting Stopped” featurette
  • The Godfather on the Red Carpet” featurette
  • Four Short Films on The Godfather
  • The Corleone Family Tree
  • Crime Organization Chart
  • Connie and Carlo's Wedding Album
  • The Godfather Family: A Look Inside retrospective documentary
  • The Godfather Behind the Scenes” 1971 featurette
  • Additional scenes
  • Trailers
  • Galleries
  • Godfather Chronology
  • James Caan Screen Test
  • The Sopranos
  • Puzo “For the Money”
  • The Godfather Around the World
  • Cosa Nostra & Coppola
  • The Filmmakers: Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo, Gordon Willis, Dean Tavoularis, Nino Rota, Carmine Coppola
  • DistributorParamount Home Entertainment
    Release DateMarch 22, 2022

    COMMENTS
    Having reviewed DVDs, Blu-rays, and now 4K UHDs, I recognize that there are times when I get it wrong. To wit, here is a sentence from my review of the Robert A. Harris-led restoration of The Godfather trilogy that was released on Blu-ray in 2008: “this new digital restoration … seems to have brought the films as close as they will ever come to how they looked theatrically.” Well, I was wrong, and I am happy to say so in light of Paramount’s truly stunning new 4K boxset, which features all-new restorations that benefit not only from the increased resolution and color that 2160p/Dolby Vision offers, but also the discovery in the ensuing years of additional and better film elements for the transfers. As detailed in the supplements, the restoration and archival teams at Paramount and American Zoetrope painstakingly pieced together all of the best known surviving elements to create all-new transfers that noticeable improve upon the previous restoration (which is rightfully commended as the foundation upon which this one could be built). The image boasts demonstrably better detail, which we can see, for example, in Connie’s wedding dress, which used to be mostly blown-out whites, but now has visible lace patterning. The image is still fairly heavy with grain and slightly soft, but the grain is much finer and less noticeable, which also enhances minute details throughout (the general softness is the intended look and any attempt to sharpen it would be disastrous). Colors also get a significant boost, giving the films a more natural palette of strong reds and blues to complement the blacks and earth tones, rather than reds that are a bit orangey and blues that lean toward teal. Thousands of hours were also spent repairing dirt, nicks, tears, and splices, leaving the films all but pristine. Obviously The Godfather, being the oldest of the films and the one whose original 35mm negative took the most abuse, benefits the most from the restoration, but Part II also looks demonstrably better in all those categories, as well. All three films were shot by cinematographer Gordon Willis, which gives them a visual consistency despite spanning 18 years of production. The image on The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corelone is mostly likely just the full 4K presentation of the transfer of the new re-edit that we got on an individual Blu-ray release last year. These are films of dark shadows, heavy contrast, and golden lighting, and the 4K transfers are truly gorgeous, with deep, rich, warm imagery that is alive with grain and texture, making the experience of watching them again feel that much more rewarding. The soundtracks for the films appear to be the same Dolby Digital True HD 5.1 surround remasters we got on the 2008 Blu-ray set. The forlorn horns that greet us at the beginning of each movie have exquisite depth and resonance, as does all of the music. The first two films, both originally recorded in monaural, are necessarily limited to an extent, with most of the soundtrack coming from the center speaker. Gunshots and explosions are given added impact, and directionality and imaging are used sparingly but effectively, with only a few instances sounding forced.

    The supplements are extensive, drawing together almost everything that was included in the original 2001 DVD set and the 2008 Blu-ray set and then adding several new supplements. All of the supplements, with the exception of the audio commentaries, are housed on a separate Blu-ray disc, which is convenient. I should also note that the original theatrical cut of The Godfather Part III is included on a 4K UHD disc in the same case with the supplements disc, which is appropriate since Coppola now views The Godfather Coda as the true third film. However, it is nice for us completists that the original theatrical cut is not only included in the boxset, but has been given first-rate 4K UHD treatment.

    First, the new stuff: We can lead off with the 16-minute featurette “Full Circle: Preserving The Godfather,” which focuses on the new restoration of the film. It includes interviews with numerous archivists and restoration experts and gives us a fascinating glimpse into the work that was done to create this new release. “Capturing the Corleones: Through the Lens of Photographer Steve Schapiro” is a new 13-minute featurette in which set photographer Steve Schapiro reminisces about his time documenting the production. “The Godfather: Home Movies” consists of 9 minutes of silent 8mm footage shot on set during the production of the opening wedding scene. And, finally, there are about 10 minutes of visual comparisons of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II that demonstrate how substantial the difference is between this new restoration and the one from 2007.

    From the 2008 Blu-ray set, we have two featurettes: “The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t” (29 min.) and “Godfather World” (11 min.), which feature interviews with an impressive list of people who were either involved in making the films or have been somehow affected or influenced by them. The former category includes director Francis Ford Coppola, editor Walter Murch, then-Paramount vice president Peter Bart, and then-senior vice president Robert Evans, and the latter category includes everyone from Coppola friends and fellow New Hollywood luminaries George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and William Friedkin, to directors Kimberly Peirce and Guillermo del Toro, Sopranos creator David Chase, films critics Kenneth Turan and Mick LaSalle, South Park co-creator Trey Parker, and actors Joe Mantegna, Jon Turturro, and Alec Baldwin. “The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t” explores the film’s conflicted production history and how it came close to never making it into production, while “Godfather World” is an intriguing and often amusing look into the films’ vast cultural impact. It focuses a great deal on how they influenced The Sopranos, but we also get clips of hilarious Godfather parodies from The Simpsons, South Park, Family Guy, and SCTV (as well as that infamous Audi commercial), plus clips from Seth Isler’s amazing one-man stage-show The Godfadda Workout, in which he recreates much of the film playing all the roles himself. More information about the film’s actual production can be gleaned from “…When the Shooting Stopped,” a 15-minute look at the film’s postproduction with particular emphasis paid to the film’s score.

    Those interested in the films’ difficult 2007 restoration will enjoy “Emulsional Rescue,” an in-depth 19-minute look at how the badly damaged original negatives were scanned at 4K by Motion Picture Imaging and restored. We get some great behind-the-scenes footage of the lab work taking place, as well as interviews with restoration expert Robert A. Harris; cinematographer Gordon Willis, who shot all three films, and Allen Daviau, who served as consulting cinematographer for the restoration; Martin Cohen, executive vice president for postproduction at Paramount who oversaw the restoration; and a host of digital artists who made the work happen.

    After that the supplements start to get a bit thin. “Godfather on the Red Carpet” is simply four minutes of various actors gushing about the film on the red carpet for the premiere of Cloverfield (there was no small amount of Paramount synergy at work here, especially with the presence of so many of the actors from the then-upcoming Star Trek reboot). “Four Short Films About The Godfather,” which run 7 minutes total, feel like outtakes from the longer featurettes that didn’t naturally fit anywhere (these include debates over which is better, The Godfather or The Godfather Part II and Coppola explaining why Clemenza’s death is a bit fuzzy in the second film). The Corleone Family Tree and Crime Organization Chart are pretty cool interactive features that give a fairly ridiculous amount of information about the characters and the actors who played them (if you’ve ever wanted to see Sonny’s rap sheet, this is for you). Finally, there is “Connie & Carlo’s Wedding Album,” which is stills gallery of 25 photos from the opening wedding sequence.

    Also included is the entire archive of supplements from the 2001 DVD box set. First up is director Francis Ford Coppola’s commentary—actually, his commentaries. Coppola fills an entire commentary track for each of the three films, and they are all outstanding. Perhaps it is because Coppola is such an experienced and knowledgeable director; perhaps it is because the films themselves are so deep and rich in meaning and history; or perhaps it is because Coppola had so many years to sit back and reflect on his achievements and failures. Most likely, it is a combination of all three, but whatever the reasons, these commentaries are definitely worth listening to, especially the one for Part III in which Coppola discusses the less-than-enthusiastic response to the film and offers a defense of it.

    The Godfather Family: A Look Inside is a 73-minute retrospective documentary produced by Paramount in 1991 after the completion of Part III. It includes numerous interviews with those involved, including Coppola, novelist/screenwriter Mario Puzo, producer Fred Roos, and actors Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall, among others. Most intriguing, though, is the inclusion of numerous screen tests conducted for the first film, including tests of James Caan and Martin Sheen playing the role of Michael Corleone. The behind-the-scenes supplements include six featurettes. The first, “Francis Ford Coppola’s Notebook,” is a 10-minute interview with Coppola in which he discusses an enormous “prompt book,” which he describes as a “multi-layered roadmap” that he used to plan the film down to the smallest detail. “Music of The Godfather” contains two sections, a five-and-a-half minute recording of a meeting in 1972 between Coppola and composer Nino Rota in which Rota plays for Coppola the famous waltz music for the first time. The second part is a three-minute interview with composer Carmine Coppola (Francis’s father) filmed while Part III was being scored. “On Location” is an interesting bit in which production designer Dean Tavoularis returns to the street on the lower East Side of Manhattan that was literally transformed for Part II. This featurette includes still images from the production as well as an extensive bit of black-and-white footage from a documentary shot during Part II‘s production. “Coppola and Puzo on Screenwriting” consists of eight minutes of interviews with Coppola and the late Mario Puzo on how they collaborated to write the three films. There are a few interesting bits here, including Puzo’s dislike of Coppola’s decision to have Michael order Fredo’s murder at the end of Part II and his desire to make a Part IV that would focus on Sonny during the 1930s. The last featurette, “Gordon Willis on Cinematography,” is actually an excerpt from the excellent documentary Visions of Light, coproduced by the American Film Institute. Also featuring interviews from noted cinematographers Michael Chapman, Conrad Hall, and William A. Fraker, this featurette is a crash course on The Godfather‘s visual style and the great risks Willis took in making it look the way it does.

    Also included is a nine-minute promotional featurette on The Godfather produced in 1971. Presented in scratchy, faded full-frame, it offers little insight into the film itself although it is interesting as an example of how Paramount was trying to position the film during its theatrical release. Additional supplements include an astounding 34 deleted scenes, many of which long-time Godfather fans will recognize as having been included in the re-edited 1977 The Godfather Saga, which cut together the first two films in chronological order. A number of the scenes, however, had not been seen before. The extra scenes are organized chronologically by year as the would appear within the entire saga, and each is preceded by a brief description of the scene and how it would fit into the larger narrative.

    There are also a number of storyboards from Part II and Part III, an extensive stills gallery of production and behind-the-scenes shots, the Corleone family tree with personal histories of all the major characters, a timeline of events in all three films, archival TV footage of Coppola and others accepting their Oscars in both 1973 and 1975, and theatrical trailers for all three films presented in anamorphic widescreen.

    Copyright © 2022 James Kendrick

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    All images copyright © Paramount Home Entertainment

    Overall Rating: (4)




    James Kendrick

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