The most dramatic moment of The Godfather DVD Collection may not be the scene where Michael pops Sollozzo and McCluskey, or the part where Fredo gets it, or the helicopter attack on the mobsters’ meeting. No, it just may be the director’s commentary for ”The Godfather Part III,” in which Francis Ford Coppola defends the wobbly third leg of his trilogy with equal parts defiance, regret, and fascinating self-aggrandizement. Of the critical roasting of Sofia Coppola’s performance in ”III,” for instance, her pop says, ”There is no worse way to pay for your sins than to have your children be included in the punishment.” Well, you were the one who cast her, Francis.
The boxed set also includes a bonus disc of remarkable extras, including a 1991 documentary that offers audition footage of not only Brando, Pacino, Caan, and Keaton, but of a very young Robert De Niro and Martin Sheen testing for the roles of Sonny and Michael. There are thirty-four additional scenes, some seen before in Coppola’s endless iterations for TV, others completely new. Featurettes on the films’ visuals and script allow cinematographer Gordon Willis and the late Mario Puzo to be heard from. The bonus disc even coughs up a few Oscar acceptance speeches — no Sacheen Littlefeather, sadly — and, if you look carefully, a hilariously apropos scene from ”The Sopranos.”
Oh, and the films themselves. The first now plays as a work of stunning classical cinema, the second as a brooding treatise on American evil, the third as a self-absorbed dream of its maker’s death. Coppola admits on that commentary that he would prefer ”the audience to think of the films as two sequels and an epilogue.” Consider it done.