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UHD Review A Few Words About A few words about...™ -The Godfather(s) 50th Anniversary Restoration -- in 4k UHD (12 Viewers)

Robert Harris

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30 March 2022

Updating these words, based upon what I perceive as a bit of confusion at either the studio or replication level.

Comments from two members of the studio team tell us that this is a definitive restoration, using the 2007 Digital Cinema Package as a basis of color, density, black and white levels as well as grain structure.

This is an absolute. Something either matches the version approved by Mr. Willis, or it does not.

The 2022 release does not match in any way, although as I’ve noted in the past, I support the right of filmmakers and the studio to affect changes in their film, and have taken a position of it being a new work for a new generation. The excellence that is The Godfather can bring pleasure to new viewers, who may have a different mindset as to the original look of the film.

The important factor is that new audiences see and appreciate the film(s).

The colorist has spoken, and has made note of his changes to the earlier version, based upon new technology, HDR, and experimentation in the color suite.

Presumably, the new master was approved by the studio, but the comments of the studio reps vs the colorist bring into question precisely what the final product on 4k Blu-ray actually is, and whether it is, in fact correct as opposed to, for example, the new DCP, and what it is that has been released.

Was this predestined to match the ‘07 DCP as reported by the studio reps?

Did the colorist decide (during Covid) to make personal changes?

I’m now a bit confused as to intent vs final released product, which is not as discussed on camera.


A number of years ago, I was visiting a novelist friend, and he was telling me about an interview he'd given during which he was asked how he felt about one of his novellas, recently produced as a TV special, not getting a great reception. Did he feel that his book was in any way damaged?

He told me that he pointed to a bookshelf where his work resided, and asked "What do you mean? My book is still right there."

In an odd way this reminds me of questions I've been receiving about how I feel about the new 2022 restoration of The Godfather(s). Almost as if I might take umbrage to a new, updated restoration.


First, and most important, as I've now had the opportunity to view enough of the final work to have an opinion - it's still The Godfather(s), and a great many people are going to love it.

There are, however, a few minor points that trouble me.

One is grain reduction, but that's viewing it through my eyes, and one must acknowledge that a modern audience may love it in it's new incarnation.

Two, actually, are very minor points, but more on that later.

Bottom line is that the work that my team did in 2007 is still available on the older Blu-ray set, and (hopefully) via DCP should someone wish to see it via the original color grading.

So what's good about this new set, and does the final result live up to sizzle and publicity?


In my opinion, in a word - yes, especially for those who desire a newer shiner overall appearance, unfettered with the original look - a matter of taste.

What Paramount and Zoetrope have created in this 50th Anniversary offering
is something different, with a slightly different color bias - whites are cleaner white, for example. And another major point, there are probably a couple of hundred feet of original negative that have been culled from the library and re-inserted in place of opticals or dupes. Viewers may not notice them, but they're there.

That noted, there's an interesting thing about human vision. Our eyes perceive color in different ways, but also quickly get used to what they're seeing.

Will someone look at the 50th and after three minutes, think to themselves that something is different. Very doubtful, as it looks terrific.

What we had performed has been called a technical restoration, tracking every shot as Mr. Willis wanted them to be seen - 2007.

Tastes change. Technology changes. New audiences arrive, and while there are differences, there's no downside.

Beginning with a more modern scan, with a deeper bit depth, allowed for some updates, which work nicely. The restoration still took thousands of hours of digital clean-up and repair, then color and densities.

What don't I love?

Only a single shot, really. The Vegas shot of the sign, which was found in the stock footage library, and added - in VistaVision - appears (at least to me) wrong for the purpose, which might better have stayed with a dupe, as opposed to an 8-perf original.

The only other problem I have is the marquis at the Chinese in the fall of 1945, when Tom Hagen goes to L.A. to meet with Woltz.

It now clearly reads - "Susanna Foster - Boris Karloff - The Climax," which opened in 1944. But I doubt that anyone will notice it. I look at it with a bit of dark humor, as going through generations of film in 1972 to a dye transfer print, it was far less legible. In 2007, we softened the lettering a bit.

But that's looking at it with my eyes.

Image – awaiting information (Dolby Vision)

Audio – 5 (5.1Dolby TrueHD)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors - Yes

Makes use of and works well in 4k - n/a

RAH
 
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Robert Harris

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Would it be possible for you to do a direct comparison of the 2008 BD to the 2022 BD?
Having now received the Blu-ray variant, everything I was seeing in the 4k tracks as one would expect in HD, without the changes affected by HDR.

The most interesting difference between the 2008 and the 2022 in HD resolution, aside from the newly imagined color and density palette, and re-imagined grain structure, is the difference between 2008 and 2022 compression.

If the 2008 were to be handled with new tech, it would look amazing even at HD level.

While I still prefer the original look and textures of the more technical 2007 restoration, there’s a place for the new one for those grain and gold averse among new viewers.

One more variant could now be issued.

A proper BD / 4k set of the 2007 Technical restoration, for those who would like to re-create the original 1972/1974 theatrical experience, and honor the true miracle of Mr. Willis’ brilliance as a cinematographer.
 
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Britton

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Looks like the new version of GF1 is up on iTunes, but only in HD. The newer Paramount logo at the beginning is gone and the Gulf+Western logo is at the end. Unfortunately the subs are the stock player generated ones instead of the beautifully designed ones from the 07 restoration. Seems like Part II is still the 07 version.

Same thing happened with the Star Trek movies. First the new versions showed up in HD and then 4K with Dolby Vision was up on release day.

How do the player generated subs look on the 4K Blu?
 

Robert Harris

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I know that - I was hoping Paramount sent a courtesy copy to the guy who restored it.
It’s not the studio. I specifically requested not to receive the big box. There’s no relevance anyway, and nothing to compare, as technologies have changed.

The only viable 1:1 comparison would be the 4k masters, or DCPs.
 

Josh Steinberg

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It’s not the studio. I specifically requested not to receive the big box. There’s no relevance anyway, and nothing to compare, as technologies have changed.

The only viable 1:1 comparison would be the 4k masters, or DCPs.

With respect - a whole lot of respect - I think the relevance comes in that BD is far more widely adopted than UHD and more people will see this new version on BD than they will on UHD. For people in that boat, like myself, it’s an open question as to whether there is an appreciable upgrade going from the 2008 BD discs to the 2022 BD discs. Simply put, is the 2022 going to offer me anything of value compared to the 2008 on a 1080p display?

Unlike some other early Paramount BDs, I never had any issues whatsoever with The Godfather set on BD, so it had not been a priority to purchase it again on BD. (As nice as it would be to have the best version of everything all the time, sometimes that’s just not practical.) If there had been some expert commentary suggesting the purchase was worthwhile, that would have swayed me.

Thank you for taking a moment to explain your position :)
 

Robert Harris

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With respect - a whole lot of respect - I think the relevance comes in that BD is far more widely adopted than UHD and more people will see this new version on BD than they will on UHD. For people in that boat, like myself, it’s an open question as to whether there is an appreciable upgrade going from the 2008 BD discs to the 2022 BD discs. Simply put, is the 2022 going to offer me anything of value compared to the 2008 on a 1080p display?

Unlike some other early Paramount BDs, I never had any issues whatsoever with The Godfather set on BD, so it had not been a priority to purchase it again on BD. (As nice as it would be to have the best version of everything all the time, sometimes that’s just not practical.) If there had been some expert commentary suggesting the purchase was worthwhile, that would have swayed me.

Thank you for taking a moment to explain your position :)
You’ll notice far more of a resolution bump on hi-cons. The film itself was never 4k. Coda would be another story.
 

titch

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Very good to read. With The Godfather at the top of the list, I notice that half of these films in the top 20 are now available on 4K UHD - which should help people sitting on the fence six years after the introduction of the format to upgrade their home theatres (which doesn't mean that this thread needs to get derailed into one of those "I want to see "....." on 4K UHD" ruts ;) .

 

Robert Harris

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Very good to read. With The Godfather at the top of the list, I notice that half of these films in the top 20 are now available on 4K UHD - which should help people sitting on the fence six years after the introduction of the format to upgrade their home theatres (which doesn't mean that this thread needs to get derailed into one of those "I want to see "....." on 4K UHD" ruts ;) .

For many, it’s still a matter of financial responsibility.
 

Angelo Colombus

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Once i receive the 4k box set it will be the only movie in my collection that i have in five different formats including the VHS The Complete Epic 1902-1959 and the Trilogy 1901-1980 on laserdisc. When i watch the 4k disc it will be the first time listening to the commentary.
 

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