Archive Function. Originally written by Ray Palen.
DVD commentaries usually fall into a few categories: really thin, where you learn nothing new about the film; interviews with cast and crew that provide some insight into the filmmaking process; or, extensive and deep examination of the entire filmmaking experience that gives the viewer a behind-the-scenes look and takes the experience of enjoying the film to a higher level.
“The Godfather” Trilogy collection, now available on Blu-Ray, falls into the last category and is extremely satisfying. When you open up the Special Features Disc on this collection the first screen includes the following quotation:
“In 2007, the American Film Institute named ‘The Godfather’ the second greatest American movie of all time after ‘Citizen Kane.’ ‘The Godfather’ changed the course of American cinema, influencing the filmmakers and the films that came after. ‘The Godfather’ and its sequels have become an integral part of our culture. It is impossible to imagine a world without them.”
One of the most readily remembered and quotable films of all time began its journey with the deck stacked against. Movie companies had little confidence that one of the most popular novels of all-time, Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather,” could ever be made into a successful film adaptation. We all know that Francis Ford Coppola was able to accomplish this and kept it going over three films.
As popular and well-known as “The Godfather” is, the commentaries on this disc will provide insights that even the biggest aficionados of this trilogy will not know.
It is fairly well-known that director Coppola had some challenges with bringing this epic novel to the big screen. However, the extent of these challenges is deeply analyzed on the Special Features and paint a true picture of the fact that this film nearly didn’t happen. “The Godfather” quickly became known around Hollywood as ‘the film no one wanted to make’. Coppola initially turned down the chance to make “The Godfather,” indicating he wanted to concentrate on ‘small, European films.
There were serious issues on the casting of the principle characters well before filming ever started. Paramount did not agree with any of Coppola’s cast choices. They had an on-going feud with Marlon Brando and felt he would never work with Paramount and they fought for Robert Redford to be cast in the pivotal role of Michael Corleone. The location also was an issue as Paramount wanted to save money by insisting that Coppola shoot in less expensive St. Louis rather than using New York City as the film’s backdrop.
“The Godfather,” once it was finally released to overwhelming critical praise, made an impact on not only the film industry but changed the gangster genre forever. “The Godfather” series took the reality of the 1930s gangster films of Paul Muni and Edward G. Robinson and modernized it by adding language and violence that soon became associated regularly with the genre. This trilogy became the forerunner for all current gangster personifications like the recently popular HBO series, “The Sopranos.” One of the funniest quotes on the extras was by actor Joe Mantegna, one of the principal characters from “The Godfather Part III,” who stated: “’The Godfather series is the Italian “Star Wars.'”
The basis for “The Godfather” saga includes some of the same themes found in classic literature and reflects the storyline of famous epic tales as it is, essentially, the story of a King with three sons. It has also been referred to as a parable of modern day capitalism.
Several critics and actors/producers also spend time examining the much-maligned final film of the trilogy at length throughout the commentaries. Upon further reflection by initial critics of the final film in the saga, many reflect that Coppola’s commentary track makes the much maligned “Godfather Part III” worthy of its predecessors.
The supplements contain much more and present a great back-story to one of the most popular film series of all-time.