The Godfather Trilogy – UHD Blu ray Review

5 Stars Coppola's masterpiece trilogy debuts on UHD Blu-ray
Godfather Trilogy 4k review

Today, The Godfather Trilogy.

In 1970, Francis Ford Coppola was just fresh off of directing The Rain People (1969) and had co-penned the script for Franklin J. Schaffner’s Patton – for which he was soon to be anointed with an Oscar – when the opportunity of a lifetime was offered to him. Paramount Pictures was in the process of adapting a Mario Puzo novel that had hit the bestseller lists the year prior and was a hot property for the studio, which was reeling from the expensive box office misfires in Paint Your Wagon (1969), Darling Lili (1970), Waterloo (also 1970) and the studio’s previous attempt at a gangster film, Martin Ritt’s The Brotherhood (1968); however, Sergio Leone, Peter Bogdanovich, Costa-Gavras, Elia Kazan, Otto Preminger, Richard Brooks, Arthur Penn and Peter Yates all passed on the project. When the studio announced Coppola as the director in September of 1970, the saga of The Godfather and its subsequent sequels was set in motion. Paramount has revisited all three films in the trilogy of their UHD Blu-ray debuts in time for the first film’s 50th anniversary.

The Godfather (1972)
Released: 24 Mar 1972
Rated: R
Runtime: 175 min
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Genre: Crime, Drama
Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan
Writer(s): Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola
Plot: The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty in postwar New York City transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant youngest son.
IMDB rating: 9.2
MetaScore: 100

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 2.0 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: R
Run Time: 2 Hr. 55 Min. (The Godfather), 3 Hr. 20 Min. (The Godfather Part II), 2 Hr. 37 Min. (The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone), 2 Hr. 42 Min. (The Godfather Part III; theatrical cut), 2 Hr. 51 Min. (The Godfather Part III; 1991 home video cut)
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: Individual digipacks encased within a box sleeve
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 03/22/2022
MSRP: $90.99

The Production: 5/5

The Godfather (1972; 5 out of 5)

“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” – Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando)

In 1945 New York City, Don Corleone presides over his family as the undisputed ruler of the New York underworld. Returning from WWII, Vito’s son Michael (Al Pacino) hopes to stand apart from his family and forge his own path in the world, as his father hopes. However, when his father narrowly escapes an assassination attempt during Christmas time, the path is set for Michael to reluctantly enter the family business, signaling the beginning of a path that will change Michael’s destiny forever…

Despite nearly losing his job as director during the production, Francis Ford Coppola transformed not only his career, but American cinema as well with The Godfather. In adapting Mario Puzo’s novel (along with the author), Coppola created an atmosphere that’s equal parts alluring, intoxicating and dangerous; that same atmosphere is extended to the contributions of the production team – cinematographer Gordon Willis, production designer Dean Tavoularis, costume designer Anna Hill Johnstone, composer Nino Rota and legendary makeup artist Dick Smith – who help bring a gritty era of 20th Century America to vivid life. There’s hardly a fault in the finished product, even extending to the impressive ensemble cast; in addition to Marlon Brando’s iconic Oscar winning performance, this movie also saw great performances from the likes of Al Pacino, James Caan, John Cazale, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire, Sterling Hayden, Al Lettieri, Abe Vigoda and Richard S. Castellano, just to name a few (Pacino, Caan and Duvall would all be nominated for Oscars here and each would see their careers go to greater heights following the movie’s release). All of these factors combined are why The Godfather is rightfully considered one of the greatest American movies ever made and why it hasn’t lost one iota of its power in the 50 years since its release.

The Godfather Part II (1974; 5 out of 5)

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” – Michael Corleone

In 1958, Michael is now the head of his father’s crime family – now relocated to Nevada and with their hands in the Las Vegas casinos racket – and has to contend with several converging crises. Not only is his family facing scrutiny from the government, but he also has to contend with a personal and heartbreaking betrayal from someone within his immediate family. This is paralleled with his father’s (Robert De Niro) own rise to power in early 20th Century New York City after fleeing Sicily following the murders of his parents.

Coppola returned to the Corleone saga – after when Paramount put the foot down on the idea of Coppola producing and Martin Scorsese directing, which is blasphemous to even think of that now – and turned in a sequel that not only built upon the framework of the first movie but surpassed it in its own right. Bringing back many of the same collaborators both in front of and behind the camera that made the first film a smashing success, the richly textured and complex atmosphere is kept intact in displaying the two separate eras in which both father and son rose to power. Again, nary a fault is present here and the performances are – again – top notch as well too; in addition to the returns of Pacino (nominated for an Oscar again, this time as Best Actor), Duvall, Cazale, Keaton, Shire (nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar) and Morgana King (as Mama Corleone) from the first film, the movie benefits from the presence of newcomers Michael V. Gazzo (Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee), Robert De Niro (who deservedly won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as young Vito Corleone), Actor’s Studio co-founder Lee Strasberg (the film’s third Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee), G.D. Spradlin, Harry Dean Stanton, Marianna Hill and even surprise returns from both James Caan and Abe Vigoda in the final flashback sequence at the end of the movie. Like its immediate predecessor, The Godfather Part II is one of the finest American movies made over the last 50 years and also – deservedly – one of the greatest movie sequels of all time.

The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone (AKA The Godfather Part III) (1990/1991/2020; 4 out of 5)

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” – Michael Corleone

In 1979, Michael is approaching old age and is starting to face his personal guilt about his rise to the top of the crime world. Hoping to save his own soul and truly attain the legitimacy that his father once sought for him, he starts donating his wealth to charitable causes but has his sights on one final deal involving the Vatican. This sets in motion a chain of events that involves his daughter Mary (Sofia Coppola), his illegitimate and fiery nephew Vincent Mancini (Andy Garcia), and Michael himself, as the ensuing wave of betrayal and bloodshed could condemn the aging Corleone to a fate far worse than death…

For the finale of the trilogy, Coppola sought to present the events as a coda to the first two Godfather films while giving the characters the proper sendoff. However – in the original and extended cuts – the plot, while still captivating, has a feeling of being padded out and being the product of one too many trips to the well. When given the chance to revisit the film to restore his original vision, Coppola not only restored his preferred title for the story, but also changed the beginning and ending in addition to reordering some scenes to fully present the coda of the Corleone saga in terms of an operatic tragedy. The result of this new version is a more streamlined and comprehensive story that truly is a fitting conclusion to the story arc that began with The Godfather. Al Pacino is still terrific as the aging Michael and is ably backed up by Talia Shire, Diane Keaton, Andy Garcia, Joe Mantegna, Raf Vallone and Eli Wallach; once a bone of contention for many reviewers, Sofia Coppola’s performance is actually a little better (albeit still below the level of Pacino and other cast members) than it first appears while George Hamilton (as Michael’s consigliere, replacing Robert Duvall) and Bridget Fonda still feel out of place. So, while it may be a bit of a letdown in comparison to the heights that the first two films in the trilogy reached, there’s still enough of Coppola’s touches present that it cannot be truly dismissed outright; in layman’s terms, it’s better than what you may have come to know about the movie.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

All three films are presented in their original aspect ratios, with The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and the original theatrical and 1991 home video versions of The Godfather Part III newly remastered and restored for this release in addition to The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. All three films exhibit a close to faithful representation to the visual intent that both Gordon Willis and Francis Ford Coppola had envisioned for each film, with fine details and color palette faithfully presented in stunning detail; there’s minimal to no instances of scratches, tears, dirt, vertical lines or print damage present at all here. Paramount has likely delivered the best visual presentation of all three films here in this release.

A final note: there’s quite a bit of debate on whether the 2007 restoration or this release is the better presentation of each of the three movies. My opinions here are based on how well this release adhered to the original intent while also taking advantage of the advances in technology in presenting the movies since the trilogy’s last home video releases.

Audio: 5/5

For both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, the 5.1 audio track approved by Walter Murch for the 2007 restorations is available on Dolby TrueHD tracks while the restored original mono tracks are available on 2.0 Dolby Digital tracks; the soundtrack for all three versions of The Godfather Part III – including the 2020 re-edit The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone – are presented on a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track as the main option. All films exhibit strength and clarity in terms of dialogue, sound mix and music scores by Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola, with minimal to no cases of distortion, crackling, hissing or popping present. Again, Paramount has likely delivered the best sounding home video release of all three films.

Special Features: 5/5

The Godfather

Commentary by director Francis Ford Coppola – Recorded for the 2002 DVD release, Coppola shares some of his memories on the production of the movie as well as some other interesting anecdotes; the option to have subtitles with the commentary is available.

Newly filmed introduction by Francis Ford Coppola (2:54)

The Godfather Part II

Commentary by director Francis Ford Coppola – Also recorded for the 2002 DVD release, Coppola shares the details on the smoother production of this movie in comparison to the first while also sharing what personal pieces from his family history were weaved into the story on a fictional level.

The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

Introduction from 2020 by Francis Ford Coppola (1:32)

Bonus Disc 1

The original 1990 theatrical version and 1991 extended home video version of The Godfather Part III (exclusive to the UHD Collection)

Commentary on the extended home video version by director Francis Ford Coppola – Originally recorded for the 2002 DVD release, Coppola shares some of the themes of the movie as well as how he originally wanted to present the movie in terms of story (which, of course, he got to do with the 2020 re-edit).

Bonus Disc 2 (Blu-ray)

Full Circle: Preserving The Godfather (16:21) – This new featurette shows the restoration process for this release with the archivists at Paramount Pictures detailing the process has evolved over the years through archival footage.

Capturing the Corleones (13:21) – Special photographer Steve Schapiro shares his cherished memories of bearing witness to the making of the iconic first film of the trilogy in this new featurette.

The Godfather Home Movies (9:04) – Never before seen on home video, the film’s production at the Norton family estate on Staten Island’s Emerson Hill – doubling for the Corleone family compound in the movie – in 1971.

Restoration Comparisons – Comparisons between the 2007 restoration and the 2022 restoration detailing which footage was used for each and the difference in picture quality: The Godfather (5:19) & The Godfather Part II (5:24)

The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t (29:46) – This archival featurette looks at the production of the film and the few times it came perilously close to being derailed; featuring interviews with Coppola, Robert Evans, Peter Bart, George Lucas and Walter Murch among others.

Godfather World (11:19) – This archival featurette looks at the impact the movie franchise has had on pop culture from The Sopranos to The Simpsons.

Emulsional Rescue: Revealing The Godfather (19:05) – HTF’s own Robert A. Harris – who worked on the 2007 restoration of the movie – reveals the process of restoring the movie in this archival featurette.

…when the shooting stopped (14:18) – This archival featurette looks at the post-production process on The Godfather.

The Godfather on the Red Carpet (4:03) – From 2008, celebrities share their feelings and favorite moments from the movie in this brief featurette.

Four Short Films on The Godfather – The Godfather vs. The Godfather Part II (2:16), Riffing on the Riffing (1:39), Cannoli (1:39) & Clemenza (1:45)

Behind the Scenes – A plethora of archival featurettes and galleries detailing the work on each film of the trilogy: the feature length A Look Inside (1:13:29), On Location with production designer Dean Tavoularis (6:56), Francis Ford Coppola’s Notebook (10:13), archival audio of Nino Rota’s piano demos of the score (5:30), a brief on-set interview with composer Carmine Coppola (3:17), Coppola & Puzo on Screenwriting (8:07), Gordon Willis on Cinematography (3:45), photo gallery of storyboards from The Godfather Part II (24 stills), video storyboards of select scenes from The Godfather Part III (4:24) and a 1971 behind the scenes featurette on the making of The Godfather (8:56).

Interactive Corleone Family Tree & Crime Organization Chart

James Caan Screen Test (0:39)

1974 network TV intro to The Godfather (1:35)

The Filmmakers – Interactive gallery of key members of the production crew: Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo, Gordon Willis, Dean Tavoularis, Nino Rota & Carmine Coppola

Additional Material – an excerpt from an episode of The Sopranos (1:34), brief comparisons of scenes from The Godfather in different languages (“The Godfather Around the World”; 0:47), a very brief clip showing Mario Puzo on why he worked on the film adaptation of his novel (“For the Money”; 0:06) and the director on why he had to avoid directly mentioning the mafia by name in the movie (“Cosa Nostra & Coppola”; 1:53).

Oscar Footage – From the 45th Academy Awards in 1973, clips of Francis Ford Coppola accepting the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay (2:24) and producer Albert S. Ruddy accepting the Best Picture Oscar (1:47); Jack Lemmon and Clint Eastwood were presenters for those respective categories, for those Academy Award ceremony completists out there. From the 47th Academy Awards in 1975, clips Coppola accepting the Best Director Oscar (1:50) and Coppola, Gray Frederickson and Fred Roos picking up their Oscars for Best Picture (1:03); for the Oscar ceremony completists, Goldie Hawn and Robert Wise presented the former while Warren Beatty presented the latter.

Photo Galleries – Production Stills (106), Connie and Carlo’s Wedding Album (25) & Rogue’s Gallery (10)

Additional Scenes – The 34 additional scenes are presented in standard definition and split into four different eras of the story: 1901-27 (9 scenes), 1945 (10 scenes), 1947-1955 (7 scenes) & 1958-1979 (8 scenes)

Trailers – The Godfather (3:40), The Godfather Part II (4:16) and The Godfather Part III (4:21)

2008 Credits and DVD Credits

 

Overall: 5/5

With a legacy spanning over 50 years, The Godfather and its two sequels have embedded themselves in American popular culture and have become engrained as one of the most influential movie trilogies in the history of American cinema. Paramount has given fans of the movie an offer they can’t refuse here, with stellar HD transfers and a king’s ransom of special features both new and legacy, with the addition of the original theatrical cut of The Godfather Part III available on home video for the first time. Very highly recommended, worth picking up and upgrading from previous DVD and Blu-ray releases and a contender for best home video release for 2022.

Mychal has been on the Home Theater Forum’s reviewing staff since 2018, with reviews numbering close to 300. During this time, he has also been working as an assistant manager at The Cotton Patch – his family’s fabric and quilting supplies business in Keizer, Oregon. When not working at reviewing movies or working at the family business, he enjoys exploring the Oregon Coast, playing video games and watching baseball in addition to his expansive collection of movies on DVD, Blu-ray and UHD, totalling over 3,000 movies.

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Noel Aguirre

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Thanks for the review but I wish there were a little more exposition on the visual ratings as in your film plot descriptions of each i.e. how the first 2 compare to the last blu-ray release which included Robert Harris’s restorations and how Coda compares to the blu-ray released last year or so especially as there has been controversy and discussions both here and all over the net.
 
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Kyle_D

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Thanks for the review but I wish there were a little more exposition on the visual ratings as in your film plot descriptions of each i.e. how the first 2 compare to the last blu-ray release which included Robert Harris’s restorations and how Coda compares to the blu-ray released last year or so especially as there has been controversy and discussion both here and all over the net.
Agreed, not sure how this review can say "All three films exhibit a faithful representation to the visual intent that both Gordon Willis and Francis Ford Coppola had envisioned for each film" when there's a 30+ page thread on this forum detailing how the new release deviates from the original intent of Mr. Willis.
 

t1g3r5fan

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Okay, I've just amended my review to include a brief note on the visual quality in the video grade section about the debate between this release and the previous DVD and Blu-ray releases based upon the 2007 restoration. What I was trying to say was that I believe that Paramount was trying to thread a needle between taking maximum advantage of the HDR range and respecting the original visual intent that Gordon Willis and Francis Ford Coppola had intended, and the end result is something of a compromise between the two. It's still good, but obviously I should have made that clear and I didn't, so my bad on that one.

I hope this clears the air a bit, but you're more than welcome to debate on which version is better. No pressure.
 

Robert Harris

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Okay, I've just amended my review to include a brief note on the visual quality in the video grade section about the debate between this release and the previous DVD and Blu-ray releases based upon the 2007 restoration. What I was trying to say was that I believe that Paramount was trying to thread a needle between taking maximum advantage of the HDR range and respecting the original visual intent that Gordon Willis and Francis Ford Coppola had intended, and the end result is something of a compromise between the two. It's still good, but obviously I should have made that clear and I didn't, so my bad on that one.

I hope this clears the air a bit, but you're more than welcome to debate on which version is better. No pressure.
Nice review as to history and background.

Just as a point of purely technical information - facts, not opinions - once Paramount removed the organic grain structure of the film, added digital anomalies, modified Mr. Willis’ color, densities, black (and white) levels, and then made content changes, there was really no compromise In the archival world.

The final result is purely re-visualization, with only a single restorative positive - superbly performed digital clean-up.

That is not to say (again) that there is anything wrong with viewers liking the ‘22 release - which I still believe was not fully the intended end-game.

Also, HDR has very little to do with the final result. All damage done came before HDR.
 
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t1g3r5fan

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I've amended my review again, and rather than make any more awkward statements on my feelings on the transfer and risk continuously putting my foot in my mouth, I'll just keep it shut.
 

Robert Crawford

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I've amended my review again, and rather than make any more awkward statements on my feelings on the transfer and risk continuously putting my foot in my mouth, I'll just keep it shut.
That's alright, you're not the only person that thinks these 4K discs look fantastic on their display.:thumbsup:
 

Robert Harris

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I've amended my review again, and rather than make any more awkward statements on my feelings on the transfer and risk continuously putting my foot in my mouth, I'll just keep it shut.
No need to either amend or keep silent. It’s an honest discussion, and your original feelings - I’ve not read your new draft - are in sync with the majority of viewers.

I’m here solely discussing tech attributes, and your opinions should stand on their own. Please don’t make changes on my account.

And certainly, please don’t be silent.
 

PMF

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If one is seeking the aroma and potencies of a true cup of espresso, best to visit Little Italy.

Likewise, if its only a quick fix of caffeine that your after, best to go to Dunkin’ Donuts.

IMHO, this 4K/UHD of The Godfather Trilogy was akin to a new-age coffee shop deftly trying to be a hybrid of the two brews cited.

Many are raving, I know.

Nonetheless, it still comes down to our own sets of tastes and - regretfully - this edition was not my cup of tea.
 
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Robert Crawford

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If one is seeking the aroma and potencies of a true cup of espresso, best to visit Little Italy.

Likewise, if its only a quick fix that your after, best to go to Dunkin’ Donuts.

IMHO, this 4K/UHD of The Godfather Trilogy was akin to a new-age coffee shop deftly trying to be hybrid of the two.

Many are raving, I know.

Nonetheless, it still comes down to our own sets of tastes and - regretfully - this edition was not my cup of tea.
I guess you can't make everybody happy.
 
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Noel Aguirre

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A re-visualization sounds awkwardly familiar to some famous director’s recent re-imagination of a certain classic and I’ll leave it at that.
I’ll be watching the previous blu-ray as my reference I think rather than this going forward. But glad I have both?
 

Robert Harris

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A re-visualization sounds awkwardly familiar to some famous director’s re-imagination of a certain classic and I’ll leave it at that.
I’ll be watching the previous blu-ray as my reference I think rather than this going forward. But glad I have both?
AFAIK, that’s not the case.
 

Robert Harris

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I agree with you, Robert. Still, I can’t help but wonder what the true verdict would be, as we have yet to see or compare as to how a 4K/UHD of the Gordon Willis would play out.
I can tell you.

It would faithfully represent the film, but many people with no background in the film’s history, would complain about the color being wrong.
 

trevanian

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I've just finished interviewing a bunch of folks who made THE OFFER (making of GODFATHER series), and every single one of them brought up Willis' work even before I got round to asking. Most of them actually recounted how the work changed the way they thought about movies, in terms of potential and daring. That's not just camera folk, I mean the colorist and the director too.

It was pretty important in terms of this series, because there are times when you are looking in on a setup from the film where they felt the need to match carefully, even though the acquisition and lighting situations are miles apart when you're shooting on the Sony Venice instead of 35mm film camera. If this thing has gone so far afield of the original, I have a feeling there are going to be a ton of disgruntled industry folks as well as us movie snobs.

By the way, the series is going to rock, big-time. I saw three eps worth of screeners and found it to be very fun and fast-moving while also delivering some genuine suspense at times. Matthew Goode should already write his speech, because his Robert Evans is going to win an Emmy, no question. In terms of reality-based entertainment, the 30% of the series viewed thus far makes me think BARBARIANS AT THE GATE, plus. As in really really good.
 

Robert Harris

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I've just finished interviewing a bunch of folks who made THE OFFER (making of GODFATHER series), and every single one of them brought up Willis' work even before I got round to asking. Most of them actually recounted how the work changed the way they thought about movies, in terms of potential and daring. That's not just camera folk, I mean the colorist and the director too.

It was pretty important in terms of this series, because there are times when you are looking in on a setup from the film where they felt the need to match carefully, even though the acquisition and lighting situations are miles apart when you're shooting on the Sony Venice instead of 35mm film camera. If this thing has gone so far afield of the original, I have a feeling there are going to be a ton of disgruntled industry folks as well as us movie snobs.

By the way, the series is going to rock, big-time. I saw three eps worth of screeners and found it to be very fun and fast-moving while also delivering some genuine suspense at times. Matthew Goode should already write his speech, because his Robert Evans is going to win an Emmy, no question. In terms of reality-based entertainment, the 30% of the series viewed thus far makes me think BARBARIANS AT THE GATE, plus. As in really really good.
I’ve been looking forward to the series. Thank you!
 

Todd Erwin

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A former classmate of mine, David Trachtenberg (A.C.E.) was the editor on The Offer, so I am looking forward to seeing it, too.
 

Sam Favate

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I finally watched the first film last night in 4k. While I can see the changes in color, I have to say this presentation was excellent. I've been watching this movie for more than 35 years and it never looked as clear or crisp to me. The scene outside the hospital - long one that suffered from being too dark, with many images lost to the inky black - was easily discernible. The Christmas lights were like beacons. I felt like I could finally see that scene. (As opposed to, say, the end of The Deer Hunter, which I watched recently in 4k, when much of the return to Vietnam was lost to the disc being way too dark.)

I did have a problem - which was likely my player - at 2:01:00 in the movie, when it skipped the very end of Vito's conversation with Tom and went right into the undertaker scene. Less than a minute was skipped. I tried going back a few times but it didn't work. (I had updated the player's firmware just prior to playing the disc. Indeed, the disc would not play until I did.)

I'm still glad to have the blu-ray of these films ("The Coppola Restoration") and I will keep both side-by-side. I kind of think of it like the remastered episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series with the new special effects. The original versions of the episodes are there too, also in HD, but the new ones are also there for me to choose when I want them.
 
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