Paramount releases a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition of The Godfather Trilogy on March 22, 2022. The restored and remastered films have also been packaged in a new 1080p Blu-ray edition. Both formats (including a 4k Blu-ray Collector’s Edition pictured below) celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Francis Ford Coppola’s 3x Oscar-winning film The Godfather. This is the first time the ‘Godfather’ movies have been available in 4K, and the color and contrast have been improved with Dolby Vision/HDR10 for those displays that support High Dynamic Range.
The collections also include The Godfather Coda The Death of Michael Corleone which was previously released to Blu-ray Disc and Digital in late 2020, but not in 4K. “The Definitive New Edit” from Director Francis Ford Coppola includes a new beginning and ending, and changes to several scenes, shots and music cues. For those of you wondering if previous cuts of The Godfather III are packaged in these collections, they are. The bonus disc contains both the theatrical and the 1991 cut of the third film in the franchise.
Here’s a review of The Godfather (1972) on 4k Blu-ray disc.
The Godfather on 4k Blu-ray played at an average of around 55-60Mbps, with peaks in the 70-80Mbps range. The encoded Dolby Vision/HDR10 bring the color depth to 10 bits, using the BT.2020 YCbCr specifications.
The level of detail in this new restoration is fantastic. In the scene where Michael Corleone is testing the pistol, he will use to assassinate Police Captain Mark McCluskey and crime boss Virgil Sollozzo the level of the background imagery in the basement is rich with color and objects you may have never noticed before like a bottle of beer (turned just so slightly so that you can’t read the label), buckets of paint that are spilling over from the sides, a picture of the pope, and stacks of books.
The scenes in Sicily are some of the most beautiful moving images in this restoration, starting when Michael is walking with his two bodyguards and upon first sight falls in love with Apollonia Vitelli. The story in Sicily eventually leads to the wedding ceremony at 1 hour and 49 minutes, where the HDR spec adds a good deal of color depth to the outdoor imagery.
The outside scenes in New York have certainly been given a boost with HDR, and the increase in resolution has enhanced details such as the American flag, Santa Claus with a “Give” sign, and the vibrant taxi cab in the above shot.
Another scene that really benefits from the increased resolution and HDR is in Vegas at about 2 hours and 19 minutes. The colorful signage, architecture, and interior hotel shots are as rich as vintage Kodachrome film.
The wide shot of the church where Michael Corleone becomes godfather to his sister’s son is another example of how good older films can look after being restored. The shots can be seen at 2 hours and 42 minutes.
As with many older films that have been restored, the black levels in the darker moments (meaning interiors and night scenes), tend to show a lot more grain than exterior shots lit by daylight. But this is common even with today’s ISO settings on high-resolution cameras that reveal more grain the higher the ISO rating.
Still though, the grain is consistent and we didn’t notice any imperfections in the images which were generated from new scans of the best negatives the team could find. As Paramount mentioned in the press release, over 4000 hours were spent repairing original film negatives which were carefully selected, and over 1000 hours color collecting those negatives. This is an extensive restoration project that should be applauded, right up there with other classic films such as Jaws, My Fair Lady, Spartacus, to name a few.
The new 4k Blu-ray and Blu-ray editions of The Godfather present audio in Dolby TrueHD with 5.1 channels at 48 kHz. This is the same mix as the audio approved by Oscar-winning sound editor Walter Murch in 2007.
In addition, the original mono tracks in The Godfather and The Godfather Part II we were restored for this collection. As you would expect, the mono tracks provide a more centered and frontal approach to the audio, but still with crisp dialogue and clean effects and music.
For the most part, audio streamed at about 3.5Mbps with some fluctuations. One of the loudest moments in the film and the one that will hit your subwoofers more than any other is the explosion of the car in which Michael Corleone‘s new wife Apollonia is sitting. This is one of the most shocking moments in the film (find it at 2 hours and 5 minutes) and even after 50 years may still give you a jolt. Hats off to the sound engineers, who mixed the explosion so realistically that it hits you from both sides as if you were immersed in the moment.
One thing that you may not have heard before in previous presentations are some of the ambient noises that add detail to the sound design. For example, at 1 hour and 3 minutes, Michael Corleone picks up a phone to call his brother Santino from the hospital where Vito Corleone was taken. When Michael is holding the vintage corded phone you can hear the plastic cord rubbing very clearly. Maybe it’s always been there, but in the 5.1 channel mix it can be heard distinctly..
In another scene when Michael goes to check on his father at the hospital (Chapter 8 on the 4K Blu-ray disc) you can hear his footprints really well — as if laying on the floor next to them. And, when Enzo the baker comes walking up the stairs his footprints echo in the empty space. With a surround sound audio system these are some immersive moments that really add something to the realism of the movie.
There’s quite a bit of new bonus material as well as legacy extras on the supplied Blu-ray disc. Among the new extras is the introduction to The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola that can be played before the feature film. On the Blu-ray Disc, “Full Circle: Preserving The Godfather” explores the process of how the archivists restore the film. “Capturing the Corleones; Through the Lens of Photographer Steve Shapiro” is a discussion with Shapiro about documenting the making of the film. “The Godfather: Home Movies” is a bunch of old 8mm movie footage shot in 1971 with some of the production of the godfather. Finally one of the most interesting bits of bonus material that is relevant to this review are restoration comparisons that show before and after of some of the imagery that was restored (although it’s on Blu-ray so not an exact comparison of older images to new 4k images_.
On the Blu-ray Disc, legacy bonus content includes The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t, Godfather World, Emulsional Rescue, Four Short Films on The Godfather, The Family Tree, Crime Organization Chart, Connie and Carlo’s Wedding Album, 2008 Credits, and Behind the Scenes content.
In addition, the 4k Blu-ray and Blu-ray collections include codes to redeem digital copies of each film via paramountmovies.com. The insert will likely be found in the first ‘Godfather’ film case and can be redeemed with either Apple iTunes or Vudu/Fandango.
The packaging for The Godfather Trilogy on 4K Blu-ray is quite nice, with special attention to detail in the interior spreads as well as the four exterior cardboard jackets with plastic interiors that sit within the containing cardboard box. Each of the three films only come with one 4k disk with the exception of the bonus disc that has a 4k disc and additional Blu-ray Disc containing bonus material. See our unboxing article for more photos of The Godfather Trilogy.