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Film on Blu-ray in “looking like film” shocker


On Saturday, I received my copy of The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration on Blu-ray, containing all three films in the series, the transfers for the first two being derived from new restorations carried out by Robert A. Harris, arguably the best man in the field of film restoration. The Godfather Part III, intriguingly enough, is the best-looking of the bunch on Blu-ray, although to what degree this is due to the state of the elements, the way these elements were manipulated, or Coppola’s original aesthetic choices, is unclear.

What is clear is that this disc constitutes the new gold standard to which all film-sourced transfers in high definition should aspire. I was floored by how good this disc looks. As a broad rule, I’ve tended to find that the best-looking titles released in high definition are invariably those sourced from a digital intermediate rather than film elements, with film-sourced materials generally either being treated poorly (see many of Universal’s back catalogue titles) or simply having less available “resolution” to begin with due to the inherent shortcomings of a process which results in reduced quality with each subsequent generation. The Godfather Part III, however, is up there with the best of the DI-sourced transfers. I can see no evidence of any sort of tampering - the grain is wonderfully reproduced, the detail is excellent, and (a rarity, I’ve found, in film-sourced transfers) there is no artificial edge enhancement or ringing to be found. This would be a definite 10/10 were it not for the fact that the compression seems slightly dicey at times - strange, given that the bit rate is approaching 40 Mbit/sec more or less throughout.

Still, a phenomenal achievement throughout and one that has raised the bar as far as transfers for catalogue titles are concerned.

The Godfather Part III
(Paramount, USA, AVC, 44.3 GB)

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There’s an excellent article on the restoration process at the American Society of Cinematographers web site.

Posted: Monday, September 22, 2008 at 3:32 PM | Comments: 5
Categories: BD Impressions | Blu-ray | Cinema | HD DVD | Technology



Great that they did this right with Robert A Harris supervising the transfer.

I really like The Godfather part III but the big problem with this film for me anyways is the fact they would not pay Robert Duvall a measly million or so to reprise his role and instead George Hamilton replaced him....Now george does a competent job but it distracts when they replace a well known face and the character he played ends up being played by someone else. Sofia Coppola wasn't as big a problem for me as replacing Duvall was.

Still a good movie though although it came out in the same year as Goodfellas so suffered a backlash because of that ( i believe )

The first two movies are superior though and superior to Goodfellas as well ( in my opinion )

Posted by: FoxyMulder, September 22, 2008 9:35 PM


So... red is the new gold, then?

Posted by: Jeffrey Allen Rydell, September 25, 2008 1:39 AM


Seriously - every grab I see on the 'net of the GODFATHER III remaster looks similarly ruddy - the first two films seem they'll be real beauties, but III never looked like this before, it jars with the look of the others, and it looks bizarre to me on its own terms (at least in grabs).

No one else?


Posted by: Jeffrey Allen Rydell, October 2, 2008 1:39 AM


I’m not going to claim that I’m an expert on The Godfather films and how they should look, so the only real defence I can give to Part III’s colour palette is that it received both Coppola and Willis’ seal of approval. Obviously, that can’t exactly be taken as conclusive proof, given that many directors are notorious for their ability to change their “vision” on a dime (e.g. the Wachowski brothers allowing The Matrix to be completely re-graded to match the colour palette of the sequels), but Willis strikes me as an upstanding sort who had a clear idea of what the films should look like and didn’t allow his opinions to be swayed. The bottom line is I just don’t know. Questionable colour palette aside, though, this transfer is among the best I’ve ever seen.

Posted by: Whiggles, October 2, 2008 10:43 AM


Yeah, ultimately we're left with their judgment of how the intended look is best translated to the home environment. Unless it's an honest-to-pete mistake. Not the most likely of scenarios, but still...

The link below is to a DVD Beaver comparison of the major iterations of this title. Keeping in mind variances in screen-grabbing techniques (especially going from SD to BD), you'll notice that the BD III is noticeably more 'red clay dust look' than even the companion SD remaster. And, again, the other grabs are definitely more consistent with both the other films (*any* release), and my memories of the theatrical look (I projected two prints over the course of a couple months on original release).


Posted by: Jeffrey Allen Rydell, October 2, 2008 4:38 PM

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