The first film remains a towering achievement, brilliantly cast and conceived. The entry of Michael Corleone into the family business, the transition of power from his father, the ruthless dispatch of his enemies--all this is told with an assurance that is breathtaking to behold. And it turned out to be merely prologue; two years later The Godfather, Part II balanced Michael's ever-greater acquisition of power and influence during the fall of Cuba with the story of his father's own youthful rise from immigrant slums. The stakes were higher, the story's construction more elaborate and the isolated despair at the end wholly earned. (Has there ever been a cinematic performance greater than Al Pacino's Michael, so smart and ambitious, marching through the years into what he knows is his own doom with eyes open and hungry?) The Godfather, Part III was mostly written off as an attempted cash-in but it is a wholly worthy conclusion, less slow than autumnally patient and almost merciless in the way it brings Michael's past sins crashing down around him even as he tries to redeem himself. --Bruce Reid, Amazon.com
On the DVD: Contained in a tasteful slipcase, the three movies come individually packaged, with the second instalment spread across two discs. The anamorphic transfers are acceptable without being spectacular, with Part 3 looking best of all. Francis Ford Coppola--obviously a DVD fan--provides an exhaustive and enthusiastic commentary for all three movies, although awkwardly these have to be accessed from the Set Up menu. The fifth bonus disc is a real goldmine: the major feature is a 70-minute documentary covering all three productions, which includes fascinating early screen-test footage. There's also a 1971 making-of featurette about the first instalment, plus several shorter pieces with Coppola, Mario Puzo and others talking about specific aspects of the series, including a treasurable recording of composer Nino Rota performing the famous theme. Another section contains all the Oscar-acceptance speeches and Coppola's introduction to the TV edit, plus a whole raft of additional scenes that were inserted in the 1977 re-edited version. Text pieces include a chronology, a Corleone family tree and biographies of cast and crew. Overall, this is a handsome and valuable package that does justice to these wonderful movies. --Mark Walker
Five-disc Box Set
Commentary by director Francis Ford Coppola
"The Godfather Family: A Look Inside" Making Of (73 min.) plus original 1971 featurette
Deleted Footage, including the additional scenes originally contained in the re-edited 1977 "The Godfather Saga"
"Francis Coppola's Notebook"
Production Stills and storyboards
Segments on Gordon Willis' cinematography, Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola's music, Francis Ford Coppola, Locations and Mario Puzo's screenplays
Corleone family tree
Academy Award acceptance speeches
Widescreen anamorphic format
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