I'm not sure if you have a most anticipated event coming in 2022, but aside from my pending nuptials, I've been counting down to March 22, 2022. That's when all three Godfather films will be released in Ultra 4K as a celebration of the first film's 50th anniversary. The restoration of the films was supervised by director Francis Ford Coppola, who said the process of revisiting the films was “gratifying.”
There are so many legends about the making of The Godfather. From arguing over the amount of light in every shot, to the pacing, to real mafia members saying it was authentic—the stories are incredible. And now, we get to go back to The Godfather in Ultra 4K. And it's not just us going back, Coppola supervised the restoration, which should whet your appetite for the movie as well.
Coppola recently sat with the New York Times to go over the process. We picked some of his best quotes to show you here.
How Did Francis Ford Coppola Restore The Godfather for Its 4K Re-Release?
It's been 50 years since The Godfather graced cinema screens, and what an exciting time to go back to it. We'll see higher-quality sources of the film, with improved digital technology, because of over 4,000 hours spent repairing the film to make the images pristine.
Coppola said of the print, “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.”
Many will ask if restoring a movie is necessary since we've seen Blu-rays and caught it on television, but Coppola explains that a full-scale restoration will actually deliver us a version of the movie we could not have seen unless we saw it in theaters in 1972.
"The studio system, which was so good at doing so much, was always weak at this question of preservation. The Godfather was uncannily successful in its time. But Paramount was very unprepared for that success. Suddenly it found itself showing in New York in five theaters, because there was such a demand to see it, and then in other places all over the world. Instead of saying, let’s preserve the original negative because it’s going to be a valuable asset, they basically wore it out something awful because they used it to make so many prints. The prints started to be so unlike what the movie really should look like."
Of course, the big question on everyone's mind with a restoration like this is the darkness. The movies were famously dark, so much so that Paramount pushed back in the early days. But Coppola assured everyone it was the right call. And that darkness has been restored now.
"We had an early meeting between myself, Gordy Willis, Dean Tavoularis [the production designer] and Anna Hill Johnstone [the costume designer] on what the style was going to be. We talked about the use of dark and light. [In the first scenes] Don Corleone’s office would be really dark, compared against the almost overexposed, magazine-bright photography of the wedding. That was deliberate. I know, and any really thoughtful person knows, what’s important in the frame."
James Mockoski at American Zoetrope helped Coppola with his work on this Godfather print. He had a very direct perspective.
"Everyone wants to put their fingerprint on it and do something new. With the new technology, it’s trying to put more light in it. You’ve got this beautiful opening and they want to see all the details and the wood paneling. Well, that’s not the point. That’s not Godfather."
Coppola seems at peace with where his career has gone after making The Godfather.
We're overjoyed he gets to be around for the 50th year of the film. He's shooting a massive movie, Megalopolis, soon, using his own money to fund it. For his part, he says The Godfather is his one movie where he wouldn't change a frame of it. He loves everything the way it is.
I'm excited for a new generation to see it in all its glory. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.