Can A Re-edit Save Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Godfather 3’ After 30 Years?

Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers for The Godfather series. So, if you’ve somehow not watched it yet, please watch it and then read this article. And if you’re not worried about spoilers, please, read on.
I have watched Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather trilogy all my life. The third part of the trilogy had released three years before I was born. And due to my father’s obsession with the films, I was made to listen to Nino Rota’s iconic score because the visuals were not suitable for me. Then as I grew, I was allowed to watch parts of it and look away during the “inappropriate” scenes. But by the time I was a teen, I managed to watch it in its entirety and my mind was blown. However, while piecing said mind together, The Godfather: Part 3 was left on the floor. Multiple times, actually. Now, after learning that Coppola was coming out with a re-edit of the franchise’s final chapter, called The Godfather Coda: “The Death of Michael Corleone”, I decided to pay the Corleone saga a revisit, not just to appreciate the first two movies but also to better understand the third one.

Over the years, there has been a lot of discussion about The Godfather trilogy. Some have said it’s overrated. Some have said it’s awesome. Some have said it’s okay. All of them and all of you are entitled to their/your opinions. What are you going to read from this point onwards is my opinion. Capisci? Great. I think that The Godfather is perfection. Even during its most awkward moments, there is a kind of honesty to it that makes it awesome. The Godfather: Part 2 technically shouldn’t work because it’s committing one of the biggest “mistakes” a sequel can commit, which is demystifying one of the most popular figures in pop-culture history i.e., Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando/Robert De Niro). But when juxtaposed with Michael Corleone’s (Al Pacino) arc, it makes sense, and in my eyes, it’s one of the best sequels (Maybe the best sequel) of all time. And, controversial opinion incoming, I think that it should’ve ended there.
Michael Corleone technically died in The Godfather 2 after he shut the door, literally and metaphorically, on his wife, Kay (Diane Keaton), and he killed Fredo (John Cazale), thereby ostracising his children, Anthony and Mary. So, it was pointless to restart that conflict by bringing Kay and Anthony with their disagreements over Anthony’s profession, by bringing Mary into the plot as the front for Michael’s plan for ascension, and then break it down, again. And that too so horribly?! If I have to really pin-point four aspects that make the movie crumble, it’ll be the helicopter attack, the trip to Sicily, Sofia Coppola’s performance, and the incestuous relationship between Mary and Vincent Mancini (Andy Garcia). No, no, no, don’t come at me to teach me about Italian culture and how it’s okay for cousins to be in love and romance with each other. Mary is Michael’s daughter and Vincent is Michael’s elder brother Santino’s (James Caan) bastard son. I am hearing no excuses.

Let’s start off things with the helicopter attack. It is not The Godfather-ish. Yes, the franchise has shoot-outs, with the most extravagant being Santino’s death. But most of them happen in short bursts and are executed so properly that it can give any horror movie a run for its money. The reason Santino’s shootout works, despite being so over-the-top, is because we are emotionally invested and it comes as a shock. What exactly happens in the helicopter attack? Some unknown guys die. One guy shouts about his lucky coat. Someone shouts out Joey Zasa’s (Joe Mantegna) name while punching his fist in the air. It’s a mess. What The Godfather Coda does with it is that it cuts down on a lot of the unnecessary shots. The guy shouting about his lucky coat is there but the gap between him shouting and him getting killed is shortened, so the helplessness is palpable. And the guy who shouted Zasa’s just dies silently. It’s still weird but it’s shorter and digestible.

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