Francis Ford Coppola’s gangster masterpiece The Godfather is getting a 50th-anniversary special release this year. Paramount Pictures also recently announced that a special color-corrected trailer will accompany the release, too.
The restored version of the film (and trailer) required around 1,000 hours of colorwork. It also required about 4,000 hours of repairs to men stains and tears. Coppola, himself, led the reinvigoration of the franchise, personally directing the restoration of all three films.
The first film, a tale of young Michael Corleone learning the family business from his father Vito, begins its anniversary run at Dolby and AMC theaters on Feb. 24. Then on March 22, 4K Ultra HD and digital versions will release, as well.
Originally released in 1972, the titular Godfather movie changed the film business forever. Its unmatched storytelling and depictions of the underworld transformed storytelling. Very rarely had Hollywood portrayed obvious antagonists as narrative heroes. And likely never with such accuracy or sympathy. Al Pacino’s portrayal of reluctant mobster Michael still stands the test of time 50 years later as one of the great gangster performances in history.
Marlon Brando, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte and Diane Keaton also starred in the underworld epic.
How Coppola felt about restoring The Godfather
“I am very proud of ‘The Godfather,’ which certainly defined the first third of my creative life,” said Coppola. “With this 50th-anniversary tribute, I’m especially proud of Mario Puzo’s ‘The Godfather.’ Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is included. It captures Mario’s and my original vision in definitively concluding our epic trilogy.”
“We felt privileged to restore these films and a little in awe every day we worked on them,” said Andrea Kalas, senior vice president, Paramount Archives. “We were able to witness first-hand how the brilliant cinematography, score, production design, costume design, editing, performances, and, of course, screenwriting and direction became famously more than the sum of their parts. It was our commitment to honor all of the filmmakers’ exceptional work.”
Coppola spoke highly of both Paramount and fans of the film, as well.
“It’s also gratifying to celebrate this milestone with Paramount,” he said. “[I appreciate] the wonderful fans who’ve loved it for decades, younger generations who still find it relevant today, and those who will discover it for the first time.”
The anniversary edition will also release internationally on a limited basis. Part II of the Godfather trilogy unfolds largely in Italy, especially towards the beginning of the film. Don’t be surprised to see some synergies there when Paramount releases the second installment, presumably in the next few years. By and large, Italian mafia films still comprise the largest space in American film history, despite organized crime existing all over the world.