Movies & TV / Columns

Can The Godfather Part III Be Fixed With Its New Edition?

September 5, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
The Godfather Part III

Before we start discussing The Godfather Part II we should all think back to the last time we watched it. At the very least, let’s take a look at the trailer.

Bravo on having the first two minutes of that trailer focusing on the two classic movies that came before it. Actually, that’s not really a good thing as we’re reminded of the brilliance of those films. 

Let’s see a scene from the movie again…

OK, that wasn’t bad. What about…

Now I remember. Look, a trilogy is a hard project to nail. Especially when you’re connected to The Godfather. The third chapter has held a place of ridicule since its release, deservedly so. It’s held as an example of what not to do and many simply ignore its presence. 

But that might change.

Coppola hears the same thing you do. He knows. The famed directer has spoken about wanting to reedit the final chapter, to bring his vision into a clearer light. He even wants a name change. 

Paramount Pictures announced it will release his new edit and restoration under the title Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. It’s not perfect but it will work and the movie will be given a limited theatrical release in December, marking the 30th anniversary of the film’s release.

The big question is will it matter since for so long we’ve come to accept that the third chapter just doesn’t live up to the bar the first two set?

Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is an acknowledgement of Mario’s and my preferred title and our original intentions for what became The Godfather: Part III,” Coppola said. “For this version of the finale, I created a new beginning and ending, and rearranged some scenes, shots, and music cues. 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.”

“Mr. Coppola oversaw every aspect of the restoration while working on the new edit, ensuring that the film not only looks and sounds pristine, but also meets his personal standards and directorial vision,” said Andrea Kalas, senior vice president, Paramount Archives.
This is all understandable and admirable but it’s impossible to be able to go back and recast or film new scenes that would elevate the movie. To get a little more insight on what Coppola is planning, we can look at Deadline’s Disruptors Issue for the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, where the director talked about the project. 

When asked about the difficulty of measuring up to the first two when The Godfather Part III was made, Coppola said, “I want to try that again, and I’ll ask Paramount because in a few years there will be the 50th anniversary of the first film. I want to use a title I tried to but wasn’t allowed to, one that came from Mario Puzo. It’s Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. But ‘coda’ means epilogue. In other words, you got part one and part two and then the epilogue.”

When looking back at the much maligned movie he said, “All I know is maybe I’m older, maybe I’m more circumspect. I want to show Sofia a new version, because she is so beautiful in it and so touching. She wasn’t an actress. But she was the real thing, playing that 19-year-old Italian girl in love with her own cousin. Godfather III as The Death of Michael Corleone is doubly painful because at the end he doesn’t die but he does worse than die. He loses everything he loves—and he lives. There are certain things in life that are worse than death.:

With this “new” version coming, Coppola says it will vindicate Sofia, which is the main weakness that’s pointed out about the movie. 
While talk of a different version of The Godfather III is enticing, I have my doubts that there is enough to work with to edit it into a worthy chapter in the series. As a fan of Coppola’s I’m curious but my expectations aren’t set too high.