Review: The Godfather Coda, The Death of Michael Corleone

As Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) ages, he finds that being the head of the Corleone crime family isn’t getting any easier. He wants his family out of the Mafia, but the mob kingpin (Eli Wallach) isn’t eager to let one of the most powerful and wealthy families go legit. Making matters even worse is Michael’s nephew, Vincent (Andy Garcia). Not only does Vincent want a piece of the Corleone family’s criminal empire, but he also wants Michael’s daughter, Mary (Sofia Coppola).

Plot: Follows Michael Corleone, now in his 60s, as he seeks to free his family from crime and find a suitable successor to his empire.

Director:  Francis Ford Coppola

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Runtime: 157 min

Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: The final installment of The Godfather saga recalls its predecessors’ power when it’s strictly business, but underwhelming performances and confused tonality brings less closure to the Corleone story.

Online Ratings:

  1. Rotten Tomatoes 100% (Subject to change)
  2. IMDB 7.6
  3. Metacritic 60

“A couple changes makes a big difference.”

Review: (Spoilers)

Just in time for the 30th anniversary of The Godfather: Part III, director/screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola has re-edited the final film in his epic Godfather trilogy. This new version, entitled Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, achieves Coppola and screenwriter Puzo’s original vision for the finale, which has been meticulously restored for the finest presentation of the Corleone saga’s last chapter.

This is a tricky review as I wouldn’t want to know a thing about the new cut without watching it, but here it is for those of you that do!

The new cut opens with Michael Corleone meeting with an Archbishop to give the Vatican $600 million for shares of Internazionale Immobiliare. This scene is nothing new, but it creates a higher sense of plot and you’re thrown back into the world immediately — there is no more lag or delay in that category. I believe this scene doesn’t take place for quite a while in the original. (Also, the original opening is gone which featured flashbacks we really didn’t need in the first place.)

From here it’s really minor when it comes to the changes. There’s some scenes cut here and there to make the film more concise, but it’s nothing major — at least not to me. I don’t want to bore you to death because I really just wanted to talk about the beginning and the ending.

The biggest change to me in this new cut is the ending. After Mary is killed, the original version flashes back to Michael and his daughter dancing at the party (among others) — in the new cut, the flashbacks to Mary remain, but all the scenes from the previous films have been removed. To fill that time we pan in longer and slower on old and fragile Michael sitting in his chair — all the way up until the point of the famous close-up shot of him putting on his sunglasses. What’s new? From here we fade to black with a brand new quote “When the Sicilians wish you ‘Cent’anni’… it means ‘for long life.’ … and a Sicilian never forgets.”

In the original version we all know well, Michael puts on his sunglasses and then falls out of his chair dead — that is now gone! For me personally, that scene never completely made sense to me, but that was the ending to the trilogy and it has been ingrained into my mind. Seeing something different doesn’t change the fact on ‘how it used to end,’ but I’m glad I got to see the vision the director really wanted. I’d love to have a younger me watch this trilogy with that ending (with no prior knowledge) to see if that would have changed my feelings on the final film.

I guess we will never know.

In conclusion —

The Godfather Part III has always been an interesting conversation piece — not because the film is bad, but because it’s not even close to the level the first two films. This brand new cut not only looks beautiful, but the subtle changes and, of course, the bigger change at the end creates new life into the legendary trilogy. I’m not here to argue if this should exist or not, that will be up to you, but from my perspective this was necessary since the director wanted it to happen. You can’t argue with the vision of Francis Ford Coppola. Can you?

No matter what you decide to do, you can grab a copy at your local retailer Blu-ray this December 8th. It will make a great stocking stuffer addition for any fan of The Godfather for Christmas.

Are you a fan of The Godfather? Will you be picking it up to own? Let me know what you think in the comments below.



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