A new version of The Godfather Part III, congruent with the vision of director Francis Ford Coppola, is released today. Will this definitive version finally resolve the debate surrounding the film that has lasted for almost 30 years?
Starting today, a newly edited version of The Godfather Part III will be released under the title The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone in select theatres with a Blu-Ray and DVD release shortly after on December 8th. This new version was personally re-edited by the director of the Godfather trilogy, Francis Ford Coppola, and is congruent with his original vision of the film. This version will feature a new beginning, ending, and many scenes repositioned to bring a new life into the film and stay true to its original vision.
Released in 1990, The Godfather Part III was directed by Coppola and starred Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Andy Garcia, Sofia Coppola, Eli Wallach, and Talia Shire. It takes place several decades after the events of The Godfather Part II and concludes the story of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). In this final chapter, Michael Corleone attempts to legitimize his criminal empire, free his family from crime, and find a successor. The film depicts fictionalized accounts of the death of Pope John Paul I and the Papal Banking Scandal of 1981-82 and links both to Michael Corleone’s business affairs. The new version will also delve deeper into the personal grief of Michael Corleone after the events of The Godfather Part II, as well as his attempts to maintain a strong relationship with the rest of his family.
Coppola and writer Mario Puzo originally envisioned the title of the film to be The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone for it to serve as an epilogue to its predecessors, released almost two decades prior, much like how a coda serves as an epilogue to a piece of music. Paramount Pictures initially refused Coppola and Puzo’s title, leading to the renaming. After its release in 1990, the film received mostly positive reviews but was not as universally beloved as its predecessors. While many praised the film for Pacino’s performance once again as Michael Corleone, some criticized its confusing plot, as well as Coppola’s decision to cast his daughter Sofia Coppola, who gave a rather stiff performance, as a lead. Nevertheless, the film received 7 Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Andy Garcia, Best Original Song, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing. Unfortunately, it became the only film of the trilogy that did not win Best Picture or, surprisingly, any Academy Award.
The first time I watched The Godfather Part III, I had mixed feelings about it. I enjoyed seeing the family dynamics carried over from the previous two films, but something felt off about the story. Unlike the previous films, it dealt significantly more with the inner emotions of Michael. My mixed feelings magnified when I thought more about the film and realized how confusing it was. I also found this film to be less interesting than the previous two films, which are some of my all-time favorites. I am, however, excited to see what Coppola brings to this new version of the film. Seeing what many consider to be the definitive version from Coppola himself will hopefully allow me to change my opinion on this film, which has divided audiences and film enthusiasts for almost three decades now.