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We walked up the black carpet towards the ornate marble lobby of Sydney’s State Theatre, each of us clutching a single red rose – just like the mourners at the funeral of Don Vito Corleone, The Godfather. But this was no funeral: it was more like a resurrection, a celebration of the restoration of one of cinema’s crowning glories, The Godfather Trilogy. Andrew L. Urban reports on the world premiere screening of the restored 35 mm print of the 1972 Best Picture Oscar, marking the release of The Coppola Restoration.

Invited guests carried champagne in one hand and their red rose in the other as we waited to be ushered in to the State’s stylish auditorium. Waiting for us was the 65 piece symphony orchestra under acclaimed conductor Irwin Shaw, which soon struck up Nino Rota’s superb overture to begin the spectacular screening of The Godfather on the new restored and remastered print.

Having introduced the screening with Aussie-Italian actor Vince Colosimo, actors Talia Shire (Connie) and Gianni Russo (Carlo Rizzi, her on screen husband – see our revealing interview with Gianni) sat in the front row of the mezzanine, later mingling with guests. It was the first time they’d seen the film on a big screen in over 30 years.

Maria Venuti and daughter Bianca sat a few seats away, just up from Kate Ceberano and her family. Across the aisle sat Hungarian SBS soccer guru Les Murray, not far from Mike Selwyn, the Australian head of the night’s hosts, Paramount Pictures, whose Home Entertainment division had spared no expense to launch this new release in style.

"All three films will be available individually and as part of a 5-disc collection"

More than three decades after they won the Academy Award for Best Picture, director Francis Ford Coppola’s classic films The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II will once again be enjoyed by audiences as they originally were meant to be seen, thanks to this meticulous restoration by Paramount, overseen by Coppola himself. Both fully restored films are now on DVD, along with a newly remastered The Godfather: Part III, in The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration. All three films will be available individually and as part of a 5-disc collection which includes a host of new special features.

The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II underwent extensive frame-by-frame examination and restoration utilizing state-of-the-art digital technology in this historic restoration effort, which required more than a year to complete. The new special features take a look at the complexities of the restoration process and provide new information about how the film almost didn’t come to pass as we know it. “The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t” relates the unlikely events, intrigue, allegiances and luck that put together the unknown director with the unwanted cast and contains interviews with most of the living players and many of the films’ admirers. Other featurettes include “…when the shooting stopped,” and “Godfather World,” which takes a look at The Godfather’s influence on popular culture today. Each film includes a commentary by Coppola.

Here is one significant reason to welcome the digital age: it enables us to preserve and propagate the value of classic films like The Godfather Trilogy.

The Godfather (1972)
Stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton. 'Marlon Brando, in the role that won him his second Oscar (which he famously refused to accept in a political gesture aimed at supporting American Indian land rights) creates a Don that could walk off the screen and into reality without changing a hair. Al Pacino (championed by Coppola but resisted by others) also makes his cinematic bones here, and these two towering performances lift the others in their wake,' says Andrew.

The Godfather Part II (1974)
Stars Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton. 'The Godfather Part II is every bit the equal of its stunning predecessor, it runs with the strong themes of the first, but this second chapter in the great cinematic trilogy takes us on a much more personal and complex journey through the lives of a father and son and how these men are formed _ a history of life, the establishing of honour, and the importance of family,' says Craig.

The Godfather Part III (1990)
Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Andy Garcia. 'Ok, so it doesn’t capture the grandeur of the first two instalments, 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,' says Craig.

Published August 7, 2008


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The Coppola Restoration -
Australian DVD release August 7, 2008 (5 discs)


Andrew Urban and Louise Keller on the black carpet
(Photo courtesy David Morgan)

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