Godfather: Bonus Disc
Paramount // R // $99.98 // October 9, 2001
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted October 2, 2001
Highly Recommended
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Behind-The-Scenes: A beautifully produced and highly informative 73-minute piece, this is a very engaging effort that really drew me in and held me there. Containing lots of interviews and video from across the years, there is some wonderful moments as Ford Coppola sits at meetings with other members of the production crew and gets quite emotional while descibing what he would like to have for certain sequences. Intercut with these behind-the-scenes elements are interviews with Ford Coppola (who also looks like he's in the middle of sitting down for a big meal while discussing the picture several times here), James Caan, Pacino, Duvall and others, who discuss their thoughts about the trilogy and their characters. The featured individual though, is Ford Coppola, who is occasionally quite animated, even doing a rather good Brando impression at one point (although Matthew Brodrick does a somewhat better one in the "Recording The Producers" DVD that's just out now).

There's a lot more to the documentary that will likely prove very interesting for fans, though. There's quite a few clips from rehersal footage that is fairly fascinating to watch as the cast works out certain sequences. Further discussion of the problems with the studio that came up during Ford Coppola's commentary for the first track are talked about in further detail here, as well, especially in terms of casting issues. The second picture is discussed in fairly strong detail, as is the third picture, which looks like it was being done around the time of this documentary. This is a superb piece that, while certainly not extremely detailed at only 73 minutes or so, still really covers a fine amount of ground about the trilogy.

On Location: This is a newly produced 6 minute featurette that has production designer Dean Tavoularis going back to the locations that were used in the "Godfather" and discussing their role in the film. It's a nice little guided tour of the places of importance in the trilogy.

Francis Ford Coppola's Notebook: This is a 10 minute featurette that is essentially a long interview with the director, who discusses his initial impressions of the book and shows us his notebook (which is enormous) that has his thoughts on what looks like nearly every sequence. The documentary also has the director talking about his feelings on elements that he didn't want to see in the series as well as the look and tone of the films.

Music of the Godfather: This section offers an early audiotaped interview with composer Nino Rota, who plays out some of his ideas for the music of the film. Quite a cool feature and I'm suprised that the tape didn't wear out or something all these years later. The second featurette focuses on Carmine Coppola's contribution to the music.

Additional Footage: This section is set-up as a time-line, with different additional clips under the four (1892-1930, 1931-1945, 1946-1955, 1956-1997) sections. 35 clips in all are included and although the quality varies and is never particularly strong, it's fantastic to have all these clips in one place, on one disc. Fans will likely be pleased to be able to see all of these clips because, although some may not have worked in the film, they certainly still do contain some strong moments. I also would have liked to have had optional commentary from Ford Coppola discussing his feelings on their deletion from the film, but we do get the next best thing: text screens that give more information about the sequence.

Puzo and Coppola On Screenwriting: Interviews with the director and writer Puzo discuss the strong relationship that the two had while working and also offers some audio clips of the meetings between the two.

Gordon Willis On Cinematography: This is a wonderful, but short featurette that has Willis discussing the choices that he made for the look of the picture. The featurette also covers how the stylistic choices of his work here influenced other cinematographers.

Storyboards: Storyboards are presented for both the first and second feature. Although it's terrific to have these available, they are laid out in a fairly basic fashion - there's no storyboard-to-scene comparisons or anything like that.

Original 1971 Featurette: The film's original promotional featurette, now in fairly bad shape, is available to view. Rather cheesy, it's simply a nice inclusion, but it really doesn't provide any detailed information about the making of the film.

Acclaim & Response: This section includes an awards and nominations text list, along with 4 Academy Award acceptance speeches (Best Picture For I/II, Screenplay For I and Director for II) as well as the film's 1974 network TV intro.

Also: Trailers for all three movies, production photo gallery, character photo gallery, family tree (character bios) and DVD credits. As a hint, keep pressing "next" in the credits section and see what happens.

Final Thoughts: A well-packed disc full of interesting documentaries and features, this is certainly a great and appreciated addition to the box set.

Further reviews in the "Godfather" set will be arriving during the next week.

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