GODFATHER, THE_PART III: DVD
In this third and final chapter in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Trilogy, it is 1979 and Michael Corleone, now an aged, ailing, all-but legitimate businessman (Al Pacino) enters into business negotiations with the Catholic Church to take controlling interest in their real estate holdings company, The Immobiliare, and expand it into an international conglomerate. Unfortunately for Michael, his ties to the past see a number of other mob families pressuring him to let them in on the deal. Once again fearing for his family, Michael turns to his nephew and young, new protégé Vincent Mancini (Andy Garcia) to help him deal with the realities of going against the other family's wishes, all the while dealing with Vincent's forbidden love for his daughter Mary (Sofia Coppola).
Review by Craig Miller:
It's true, The Godfather Part III is not the finest example within Francis Ford Coppola's legendary trilogy, but really, is that any surprise? Conceived by studio heads in an attempt to turn a profit, rather than being made for artistic reasons, Part III is the beautifully tragic conclusion to a film franchise that is universally described as containing two of the best films of all time.
Ok, so it doesn't capture the grandeur of the first two installments, but looking past the history of the film's initial conception, Coppola and co-writer Mario Puzo put together a wonderfully complex story detailing the latter years of the great Corleone crime family, with an edge that adds superbly to the overall mythology and philosophies that so dominate these films_ family and honour.
A much more convoluted story than the first chapters, Part III contrasts the legitimate business world in which the Corleones now find themselves, with the criminal underworld in which the family first made its fortune.
The Corleone family is now at the height of its power, almost completely legitimate and entering a time within their family history where their criminal background is fading into the past. The once great crime family business is now more a business of philanthropy, as the family trust, headed by Michael's daughter Mary, donates great sums of wealth to those who need it. That being the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, the Vatican is not immune from corruption and when the wheeling and dealing between a corrupt Archbishop and Michael goes sour, the way of the "old life" begins to raise its ugly head.
The similarities between the two worlds are delicately explored by Coppola's and Puzo's probing screenplay and the higher up the family goes in society standings and the world of legitimate business, the more crooked they seemingly become.
As well as the legitimacy of business angle, the film continues to deal with the complexities of the family and honour, and the simple "bang bang" ethics of the criminal underworld. It also introduces a touching love story into the family history with Michael's protégé Vincent - the bastard son of Michael's brother Sonny and the son Michael never had - beginning a love affair with Michael's daughter Mary. Although the two are first cousins, the angle of incest is never exploited but carefully covered, dealing with the "dangers" such a relationship would bring to the family rather than being depicted as out and out wrong.
Al Pacino is once again sublime as Don Michael Corleone, but this time the role is a little different. Pacino is asked to drop a lot of Michael's toughness and hard exterior, and is asked to show real weakness. Pacino plays perfectly a man continually dealing with the pressures of family, and it is only upon entering the twilight of his life that he sees a true path. His inability to forgive himself for ordering the death of his beloved brother, the disintegration of his own marriage, his thirst for redemption and a past washed in blood, have all taken their toll.
The film's last thirty minutes, climaxing in the tragic finale on the opera house steps, symbolises the great truth behind this remarkable trilogy, with a heartbreaking set of scenes that really shows the true death of innocence. Coppola may well have struggled with the script throughout filming, but this ending is something special.
And speaking of something special, by far the best audio commentary from the three films is available on this release, with Coppola opening up on his thoughts about this final installment in a commentary that can only be described to movie buffs as a "must listen". Although it does suffer from length, Coppola is open and honest about his efforts in making this film, the criticism it received and how the final cut was not exactly to his liking thanks to the rush job in getting it out.
Unduly rated by many as below average and not worthy of its place beside the first two masterpieces within this exquisite movie trilogy, The Godfather Part III is not only a fine example of quality film making, but is also an impressive conclusion to this legendary film franchise.
Published December 2, 2004
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CAST: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Joe Mantegna, George Hamilton, Bridget Fonda, Sofia Coppola
DIRECTOR: Francis Ford Coppola
SCRIPT: Francis Ford Coppola & Mario Puzo
RUNNING TIME: 163 minutes
PRESENTATION: Widescreen 1.85:1, Dolby Digital 5.1
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary with director Francis Ford Coppola
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
DVD RELEASE: November 11, 2004