Thursday, January 21

The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone review – Coppola edits the past | Movie


JWhen you thought you were out … he puts you back in. Francis Ford Coppola has chaired various editorial remixes of Apocalypse Now, and now he has done the same with his little-loved The Godfather III from 1990: with new editions and a new title. He and co-writer Mario Puzo have removed the stigma from the “three sequels” by renaming The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, but, at 158 ​​minutes (compared to 175 and 202 minutes for the other two films) ), it is barely short. enough to be a coda and does not structurally function as a coda in any way. Rightly or wrongly, it is exactly what the original title declared it to be: part three, the third act in the life of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), who at 60 tries to start a respectable business rescuing the embarrassed financiers of the Vatican. Bank. In this way he becomes a businessman of enormous power, somewhere between Faust and Mephistopheles, but also a vulnerable target for the shadow conspirators.

There are a number of small changes to the original film, the most important being one at the end, which might baffle those wondering about that new title: The Death of Michael Corleone. This change could imply that his actual death was the emotional or spiritual death that happened on the steps of the Palermo opera house, or even much earlier.

Michael returns to mob violence apparently because he gets caught up in a fight between Joey Zasa (Joe Mantegna), the rude boss of the casino he sold, and his nephew Vincent Corleone (Andy Garcia), son of the late Sonny, who played on G1. by James Caan. Naturally, Michael sides with Vincent, with horrible results. But it is not only this. Michael realizes that the supposedly legitimate world of business and politics that he has been yearning for all his life is as brutal as the mob, and Michael gets to play a key role in blatantly fictional versions of two true events: death in 1978 of Pope John Paul II. Me and the 1982 assassination of Vatican-linked banker Roberto Calvi.

This movie was derided at the time as a shark-jumping disaster: choppy, convoluted, anti-climatic with a disappointing performance by the director’s daughter, Sofia Coppola, as Michael’s daughter, Mary. It certainly feels suffocating compared to Scorsese’s GoodFellas, which came out the same year and was much more vibrant, compared to Coppola’s rather majestic and mindful tale of Shakespeare. (Interestingly, Scorsese’s mother Catherine had a cameo in both films.)

Well, a certain critical revisionism is necessary. It is true that many scenes in this film are obvious retreads of key scenes from the first: the opening piece of the party, in which Michael receives visitors in his sanctuary, and also the closing sequence, in which cold-blooded hits are interspersed. with a public display. . But they are intended to “mirror” events, full of irony and bad omen. This movie has ambition and scope – the real-world conspiracy theory might feel forced, but it gives a kind of surreal vibrancy to the Michael Corleone ending. Michael’s audacious “confession” scene to the cardinal who would later become Pope John Paul I is scandalous in a way, but also melodramatic inspired.

And Sofia Coppola is not as bad as that. He brings a brooding and inexperienced longing as well as an unresolved sexual tension to his forbidden love affair with his cousin Vincent. (And, of course, she has proven her worth as a director many times since.) I’m not sure how much, if anything, Coppola’s reissue makes for the third Godfather movie, but it’s worth watching.

• The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is in theaters December 5 and 6 and available on digital platforms starting December 8.

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