HomeEntertainmentHollywoodRestoring ‘The Godfather’ to Its Original (Still Dark) Glory

Restoring ‘The Godfather’ to Its Original (Still Dark) Glory

After 50 years, Francis Ford Coppola nonetheless isn’t completed with “The Godfather” — and it isn’t completed with him, both.

Coppola made his bones with that crime epic, which received three Academy Awards, together with greatest image, made untold hundreds of thousands of {dollars} for Paramount Pictures and influenced a half-century of filmmaking within the course of.

But times have changed. It’s not just like the previous days. And but “The Godfather” continues to age like a satisfied don sitting blithely in his garden.

In efforts to protect “The Godfather” for future generations, Paramount, Coppola and his colleagues at American Zoetrope beforehand labored collectively on repaired and revitalized variations of the movie as just lately as 15 years in the past, in what was then billed as “The Coppola Restoration.”

Now for the fiftieth anniversary of “The Godfather,” which opened in New York on March 15, 1972, Coppola and these studios have produced a brand new restoration. This newest version was created with higher-quality sources of the movie, improved digital technology and a few 4,000 hours spent repairing stains, tears and different flaws. (It will probably be launched in theaters on Friday and on residence video on March 22.)

As Coppola defined final week, “The whole thing is trying to get it to look like it did at the original screening of ‘The Godfather,’ when it was only two weeks old, not 20 years old or 50 years old.”

Coppola, now 82, mentioned he by no means bored with scrutinizing the movie. But naturally any time he spends reflecting on “The Godfather” brings again a variety of feelings and reminiscences — the ache of its fraught manufacturing and the delight of its runaway success.

“You have to understand, as a filmmaker, I didn’t really know how to make ‘The Godfather,’” he mentioned. “I learned how to make ‘The Godfather’ making it.”

Speaking in a video interview alongside James Mockoski, the movie archivist and restoration supervisor for American Zoetrope, Coppola mentioned the brand new work on “The Godfather,” the scenes he wished to maintain darkish and the scenes that just about received lower — and even labored in a plug for his newest movie in progress, “Megalopolis.” These are edited excerpts from that dialog.

Why was a restoration effort like this vital?

FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA The studio system, which was so good at doing a lot, was all the time weak at this query of preservation. “The Godfather” was uncannily profitable in its time. But Paramount was very unprepared for that success. Suddenly it discovered itself displaying in New York in 5 theaters, as a result of there was such a requirement to see it, after which somewhere else everywhere in the world. Instead of claiming, let’s protect the unique damaging as a result of it’s going to be a priceless asset, they mainly wore it out one thing terrible as a result of they used it to make so many prints. The prints began to be so in contrast to what the film actually ought to appear like.

JAMES MOCKOSKI There isn’t an important print of “The Godfather” from the unique launch. So what we relied on was Gordy’s [the film’s cinematographer, Gordon Willis] authorised restoration. Other than that, we wouldn’t have a clue of how the movie actually seemed when it was initially launched.

COPPOLA And that is additional difficult by the truth that Gordy Willis intentionally used a artistic method that was extraordinarily harmful. He flirted with it being underexposed — which is a sin — in elements of the body. If the actor was not on his mark, if he was two toes away from the place Gordy had thought he was going to be, he could be in whole darkness. It made it stunning, but it surely was very unforgiving.

How did you search out the parts of movie that have been used on this restoration?

MOCKOSKI We discovered a bit extra since earlier restorations. Paramount discovered it in different [film] cans. They did an effort to cobble collectively the primary two movies [made for television and titled “The Godfather Saga”] and once they lower the movie, it wound up in different cans.

Is there any unused footage from “The Godfather” that you simply’ve by no means been capable of find?

MOCKOSKI “Godfather,” due to its success, they did preserve every part. Paramount had management of movies like “The Conversation” [the 1974 Coppola drama]. And when that was locked and in distribution, they took every part he shot that didn’t wind up within the movie and so they despatched it to the inventory footage division. So we don’t have something apart from what you see. Later on, we saved every part from “Apocalypse Now,” “One From the Heart” and every part in our vaults.

[A spokeswoman for Paramount confirmed this, adding that the studio has 36 shots from “The Conversation” in its stock library.]

Anything on this restoration that you simply’re nonetheless not utterly glad with?

MOCKOSKI There’s nonetheless stuff within the marriage ceremony scene that was of degraded high quality. But total, on this restoration, you possibly can hardly inform that.

What is it wish to scrutinize each single body of “The Godfather”?

MOCKOSKI It’s enjoyable to see issues body by body, since you’ll see issues that nobody really sees. When they do a fade or dissolve, you’ll see somebody with a clapboard. There’s one scene — the previous gentleman singing the song at the wedding, his dentures begin falling out.

This is a film that, by design, is meant to be very darkish. How have you learnt while you’re taking a look at a picture that’s too darkish — or not darkish sufficient?

COPPOLA We had an early assembly between myself, Gordy Willis, Dean Tavoularis [the production designer] and Anna Hill Johnstone [the costume designer] on what the model was going to be. We talked about using darkish and light-weight. [In the first scenes] Don Corleone’s workplace could be actually darkish, in contrast towards the just about overexposed, magazine-bright pictures of the marriage. That was deliberate. I do know, and any actually considerate particular person is aware of, what’s vital within the body.

MOCKOSKI That’s additionally a hazard once we retransfer it. Everyone needs to place their fingerprint on it and do one thing new. With the brand new technology, it’s attempting to place extra mild in it. You’ve received this stunning opening and so they wish to see all the main points and the wooden paneling. Well, that’s not the purpose. That’s not “Godfather.”

Were these the sorts of belongings you have been paying shut consideration to throughout the making of the unique movie?

COPPOLA I can’t say that it was my nature to be frightened about photographic element. “The Godfather” was a really powerful expertise for me. I used to be younger. I received pushed round and I pushed again. There was loads of bluffing I did. I used to be simply glad I had survived the expertise of “The Godfather” and I wished nothing extra to do with it. I didn’t even wish to direct “Godfather II.”

Do you ever get bored with watching “The Godfather”?

COPPOLA No. Never.

MOCKOSKI I’m all the time nervous to indicate him as a result of possibly he’ll say, “Ah, but you know what I’d like to do that I wasn’t able to is make these changes ——” and right here comes a distinct lower. But he would sit there and watch it. He by no means will get bored with it and he’ll have the best tales. [To Coppola] You advised me once we did the final evaluation that they didn’t need you to shoot the scene where Brando has a heart attack.

COPPOLA That was lower from the script. Paramount figured, when you cut to the cemetery, you’ll know he died. But I stole that [scene] by getting a bit of early on the marriage ceremony and having the tomatoes in the identical place. Brando mentioned, let me do that trick that I do for my very own [children]. And he did the orange-peel trick. It was his thought and he saved me. Thanks to Marlon Brando and Dean Tavoularis for getting the tomatoes. We needed to fly them in from another place and it was a giant scandal of how a lot that they had value for a scene that was lower from the script.

Do you may have any need to re-edit “The Godfather” in the best way you reshaped “The Godfather Part III” into “The Godfather, Coda”?

COPPOLA “Godfather,” I’d say there’s no adjustments I wish to make. There are some footage that I’ve and am altering and a few I received’t contact. But there’s no rule of thumb as to which these are. Ask me now, a film, if I’m going to alter it or not. You have a film of mine you wish to ask me about?

Uh — I simply rewatched “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” a number of weeks in the past. How about that?

COPPOLA There are not any adjustments to “Dracula.” That is the lower. “Dracula” is a completed film.

“The Godfather” has already endured for 50 years. If it ought to develop into the film you’re greatest recognized for, are you at peace with that?

COPPOLA I feel it’s already the film I’m most recognized for. If you ask everybody to call why I must be in any respect even thought-about of significance, they’ll say “The Godfather.” Maybe “Apocalypse Now” is a detailed second. “Apocalypse Now” is a extra uncommon and extra attention-grabbing film, in some methods. But I used to be all the time making movies that I really didn’t know tips on how to make and studying from the movie itself. That’s why my profession is so bizarre. I guarantee you, “Megalopolis” is essentially the most bold, essentially the most uncommon and the weirdest movie I’ve ever tried and I don’t know tips on how to make it. And I like that, as a result of I do know it should train me.

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