Pulling Us Back In?
Tripwire reviews Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Coda: The Death Of Michael Corleone, out now on Blu Ray and DVD…
The Godfather Coda: The Death Of Michael Corleone
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, Sofia Coppola
Thirty years after Coppola released The Godfather Part III, the director felt the urge to tinker with it long after it had receded into semi-obscurity. The upshot is The Godfather Coda: The Death Of Michael Corleone. Essentially Coppola has added a new scene and changed the ending, while editing twenty minutes out of the picture – sort of a reverse director’s cut. But the problems of the original version still persist.
Producing a sequel to two of the most revered films in modern cinema history was always going to be problematic. The Godfather Part III and this pointlessly renamed version have a number of manifestly weak points: Coppola’s daughter Sofia wasn’t up to the task of playing Michael’s daughter Mary (although she proved herself to be a very impressive director in the long run), Eli Wallach is horribly miscast as puppet master Don Altobello and the story of Andy Garcia as Vincent Mancini, Sonny’s illegitimate offspring, feels a little too much like a retread of Michael Corleone’s rise to power. Furthermore the absence of Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen is keenly felt here, with George Hamilton no substitute for the intriguing dynamic that the director created so expertly in the first two outings between Hagen and the rest of the family. Pacino, who was so implicitly understated in Parts One and Two puts in a performance which is mostly histrionic.
Joe Mantegna as street thug Joey Zasa is passable but lacks the dramatic power of previous threats to the Corleone family, as an underdeveloped, two-dimensional figure. There are still plus points here as Garcia is authentically hard boiled as the man who takes over from Michael, and there are a few set pieces which are bravura cinema such as the trip to Sicily. These moments all have a nostalgic piquancy to them – the execution of Zasa by Vincent, echoing as it does the scene in Part II when Vito kills Don Fanucci, and the final scene set in the opera house in Palermo, which ratchets up the tension until the end. Coppola has altered the final scene as well, with the death of Michael as an old man now taking place off camera. This deprives the film of the resonance of Vito’s passing among the orange bushes in the Godfather Part 1.
The Godfather Part III was a highly flawed sequel to two sacred movies. The Godfather Coda: The Death Of Michael Corleone is a marginally improved effort, but as a moment in pop culture it barely registers.
Here’s the trailer for the film