Francis Ford Coppola Returns With “Godfather: Part III” Restored Recut Version
Francis Ford Coppola is finally at peace with Godfather: Part III. “It was like pulling on the thread of a sweater that annoyed you, and you end up re-knitting the whole sweater.” The Oscar-winning director recut the legendary gangster film to become the picture he envisioned 30 years ago.
“The Godfather” was hailed as a masterpiece when it was released in 1972. Two years later, its follow-up, “The Godfather, Part II,” became that rare sequel that surpassed the original, earning six Academy Awards. So, naturally expectations were high when “The Godfather, Part III” was released in 1990.
Written by Mario Puzo and director Francis Ford Coppola, “Part III” found the central character, Michael Corleone, looking to move beyond organized crime and enter into a business deal with the Vatican. Critics were mixed in their reviews and the film has been unfairly maligned in the 30 years since its release. Now, Coppola has returned to the final chapter in the Corleone crime family saga with a restored and recut version retitled “The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, in an interview with CBS This Morning, Coppola said he believes the new version of the film — with a different beginning and ending — vindicates the movie, which, while being nominated for a slew of Oscars, was savaged by critics and some fans.
“It was like pulling on the thread of a sweater that annoyed you, and you end up re-knitting the whole sweater,” Coppola says of the new cut. “If an audience does not understand what is going on, it is very hard for them to be emotional about it.”
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The most upsetting aspect of the negative press that the film got was the harsh criticism of his then 19-year-old daughter, Sofia. She was a relative newcomer who was a last-minute replacement for Winona Ryder, who had dropped out of the role on doctor’s order due to exhaustion. Sofia had been cast in the key role of Michael’s Corleone’s beloved daughter, Mary and received very harsh criticism and unfavorable reviews for her portrayal.
“When the film came out, the bullets that Sofia got were meant for me, just as in the story, ironically,” Francis Ford Coppola said. “My wife was very upset.” The cast recently watched Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, including Sofia. “She didn’t want to see it, but she felt the whole thing was better,” Coppola said.
Co-star Diane Keaton has been unrestrained in her praise of the re-edit. She recently told Variety watching “Coda” was “one of the best moments of my life,” adding “… Francis restructured the beginning and the end and man, I’m telling you it worked.”
Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone” will have a limited theatrical release beginning Friday and arrive on Blu-ray and digital Dec. 8.