It took 30 winters for Paramount Pictures to finally take the right decision. Had this decision been taken in the first place, it could possibly have had changed the fortunes of the third installment of 'The Godfather'. Yes, Paramount Pictures will release a "new edit" and "restoration" of Francis Ford Coppola's 'The Godfather Part III' in theaters in December, to mark the film's 30th anniversary, followed by a digital and DVD debut.
The announcement definitely comes with lots of expectations, as the admirers of the franchise believe that the last part of the trilogy was a big disappointment, with an ending that was panned by both audience and critics. The new re-mastered version will be titled 'Mario Puzo's The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.' Yes, you read that right. This is the same title Coppola had proposed initially but Paramount had other plans.
Coppola Has the Last Laugh
Paramount Pictures said on Thursday that the new cut achieves the original vision that Coppola and screenwriter Mario Puzo had for the movie. Coppola, reportedly, has worked on a brand new restoration and edit that includes new scenes.
When Coppola first offered Paramount the third and final installment of 'The Godfather Trilogy,' he titled it 'The Death of Michael Corleone.' The studio refused. This was one of the most anticipated films of all time, and it wound up being synonymous with cinematic disappointment, undeservedly.
Needless to say, Coppola has long wanted to have the original version that had a different beginning and a different ending restored and presented to the audience. And he finally will get a chance to do so.
"For this version of the finale, I created a new beginning and ending, and rearranged some scenes, shots, and music cues," Coppola said in a statement. "With these changes and the restored footage and sound, to me, it is a more appropriate conclusion to 'The Godfather' and 'The Godfather: Part II' and I'm thankful to Jim Gianopulos and Paramount for allowing me to revisit it."
It is expected that the new edit will finally do justice to the Godfather III, aka the bad one, aka the flop. After all, no one liked such an ending. So, one can expect some new scenes as well as the deletion of some that were not in the original novel.
That said, much like its predecessors 'The Godfather Part III' too has a troubled history. First, the film was released 16 years after "The Godfather Part II" which was already a shade too late. Paramount gave Coppola only a year's time to deliver a final cut of the film after he and Puzo sent in the completed screenplay. The studio wanted it finished in time for a Christmas 1990 theatrical release. That, however, was just the beginning of the problem.
You can't really call Al Pacino to be stout but he had already put on some weight in the span of 16 years. Talia Shire too looked beyond her age. But still they worked on their looks and managed to get into the skin of their respective characters. But then real problems started. The story focused on the efforts by Al Pacino's Michael Corleone to free his family from the crime business. Diane Keaton and Talia Shire reprized their roles, but Robert Duvall turned down the offer to reprise his role as consigliere Tom Hagen after he heard how much Al Pacino was making.
Winona Ryder dropped out of the production due to physical exhaustion once shooting started. Helpless, Coppola had to turn to his 19-year-old daughter Sofia Coppola, the now-renowned director, to play the role of Mary, the daughter of Michael Corleone and Kay Adam.
And Sofia was the first to face criticism from the critics, who widely panned her performance. Unfortunately, neither Coppola nor Puzo wanted it that way. The film went on to earn seven Oscar nominations, including Best Director and Best Picture, but failed to impress most.
In fact, there were major issues with film critics at one point even questioning Copolla's ability as a filmmaker. "Some of the dialogue scenes, especially in the beginning, sound vaguely awkward; the answers do not fit the questions, and conversations seem to have been rewritten in the editing room. Other shots — long shots, into the light, so we cannot see the characters' lips — look suspiciously like scenes that were filmed first and dubbed later," Roger Ebert had written in his review in Time magazine then.
However, Coppola seems to have risen like a Phoenix to give it back to his critics, this time around, with a complete new edit that promises a new beginning and new end to the trilogy.