THE GODFATHER PART III
Review by Michael Jacobson
Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, Joe
Mantegna, Bridget Fonda, George Hamilton, Sofia Coppola
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Length: 170 Minutes
Release Date: October 9, 2001
you like to make your confession?"
Eminence, it's been so long... I'm afraid I'd take up too much of your
always have time to save souls."
is the year 1979, and we've come to visit the Corleone family for the final
Godfather Part III is an integral part of the entire saga...so much so, that it cannot
stand on it's own, yet when viewed as a whole with its prior installments,
seems like a chapter the story cannot do without.
The parallels come full circle. In
II, we see both Godfathers, Vito and Michael Corleone, in their prime...both men
lean and hungry and unafraid. In Part
III, we see Michael (Pacino) as we saw Vito in the original; on the other
side of life, faces ravaged by their deeds, shadows of what they once were,
remembering what was most important to them but lacking the ability to preserve
after promising his then wife Kay (Keaton) that his family would go straight,
Michael finally seems on the verge of making it happen.
The Corleones, under his direction, have forgone their interests in
gambling and other shady enterprises, and as the picture opens, the one time Don
is even being given an award by the Catholic Church for his humanitarian
enterprises. Later, we a large sum
of money "charitably" changing hands between the family and the Church.
Money can buy just about anything, including respect...but as these films
have shown time and time again, the sins of the past always return.
Corleone family has outlived its ability to function. Those lucky enough to live to old ages like Michael either
try to hang on or let go, and neither seems possible.
Michael chose his destiny a long time ago, and that destiny has dictated
his life ever since. Even older,
frailer and weakened by diabetes, he will once more have to face the
consequences of his lifetime of choices.
future is represented by two characters: his
daughter Mary (Sofia Coppola), who may be the living symbol of everything decent
he's ever tried to be, and his nephew Vincent (Garcia), the hot-headed bastard
son of his brother Sonny, who, unlike Michael at his age, wants everything that
being a Corleone means...with a vengeance.
characters, two distinct and different futures. Only one will carry on the family name, and providence itself
may choose what Michael's ultimate legacy will be.
who has made Michael his own since the early 70's, is in absolute top form.
We see every year of the decades of Michael's life that was not shown
on screen between parts II and III. As
an actor, he feels Michael's pain, qualms of conscience, and flashes of
strength...his performance creates some of the film's most lingering images.
has made a career out of playing fierce-tempered Italian American characters,
and there's a reason for it: he's
great at it. His role as Vincent is
probably his most memorable one since The Untouchables. As for Sofia Coppola, enough has been made of her
father's decision to cast her despite not really being an actress.
She has proven where her true talents lie as writer and director of the
brilliant The Virgin Suicides. Winona
Ryder, the original casting choice, might have given the role more impact than
she...I think that's enough said.
real star of the picture, of course, is Francis Ford Coppola, who once again
creates the world of The Godfather that audiences know by heart.
It is less enclosed than before; time has a way of making the cracks show
in just about everything. The
Corleones couldn't keep the outside world away forever.
But their world still exists, from the whispered order to the surprising
acts of violence that shatter the silence and remind us all that these are
characters we saw choosing their fates many years back...and now their fates are
coming to collect.
finale in Sicily, which pays homage to Coppola's own baptism massacre sequence
of the first film, shows perhaps the last remnants of the Corleone family under
Michael's control staking one last claim as Michael's son makes his operatic
debut. Sicily was where Vito
Corleone was born, and it is here that Michael has his last moment of
triumph...a triumph that is short lived, as once again, dominos he set in motion
as a young man continue to topple, and despite the man he once was, his power
cannot stop the events he set in motion.
Corleone family will continue, of course, but so will the weakening we've
witnessed with the passage of time. It
will be a shell of its former self. Vito
built an empire, and Michael ran it to its fruition.
What Vincent will inherit will be the mere remnants of a
kingdom...perhaps a reminder about what becomes of all those who live by the
the most part, this anamorphic transfer is good, but with some problems worth
noticing. Again, Gordon Willis'
terrific cinematography makes for a difficult video presentation, and some
scenes near the beginning, along with a crucial dinner scene between Michael and
Kay, show the effects of their contrast. Grain
is evident, along with some unexplained shimmering of background details.
Most of the picture looks quite good, however, with distinct and
memorable color and lighting schemes well rendered, and with good levels of
detail even in darker settings.
enjoy the best audio mix of the set, with a much cleaner, clearer center stage
that renders the dialogue with slightly more fullness.
The surrounds get some use in key action sequences, plus the opera
finale, and come into play during quieter scenes for ambient effect.
The .1 channel gets a little more use than in the first two films as
well. Overall, it should be stated that this picture probably
features the best music of the three films, with Carmine Coppola's beautiful,
haunting melodies underscoring the emotions and drama of the picture.