Monday, May 23, 2005

Still Barely There, but not as Barely...

I watched all of The Godfather films with their commentaries a couple of weeks ago, and really enjoyed them. I even enjoyed the third film, which I'd shied away from for the last 15 years because I liked the first two so much that I was afraid of the bad reports I heard. I thought that it worked fine as long as it was viewed as a postscript, rather than the third part of a three part story. Coppola himself said as much in the commentary - that his intent was to call the film "The Death of Michael Corleone" to indicate the place of the film in context of Parts 1 and 2.

The commentary (for all three films) is what really struck me, though, it was so frank and direct, I really appreciated how honest Francis Ford Coppola was, and the extent to which he shared his insecurities, especially in his discussion of making the first movie. It was downright inspiring to hear him talk about going to see "the French Connection" before his own film was finished, and thinking that his film was nowhere near as good. And the person he saw it with (someone also working on The Godfather with him) agreed that The French Connection was so much better! Of course, even though The French Connection is still regarded, it has nowhere near the longstanding acclaim and following of the Godfather.

It was a delight to listen to him recount the struggles with the studio, the material, even the conventions of filmaking at the time, and also to hear about his love for his own family and how manty details came from his experiences ("football weddings", the hand-labeled anisette bottle) and his family traditions.

I've always admired Coppola as a filmaker, but after watching those commentaries, I appreciate his attitude and approach a lot more.


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