Francis Ford Coppola has made significant changes to his much-maligned 1990 film, The Godfather Part III, that is set to surprise and delight fans of mafia trilogy.
The 81-year-old filmmaker recently reedited the closing act of his mob series to create a new version of the film, titled Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, which will be released on December 8.
Do-over: Francis Ford Coppola has made significant changes to his much-maligned 1990 film, The Godfather Part III. Stars Al Pacino and Andy Garcia seen here
Critic Mike Ryan noted 'there really weren’t *that* many changes outside the opening scene and the end' in his UPROXX review of the film.
The new ending represents the biggest change to the original cut, which depicted an elderly Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) dying and toppling forward out of his chair immediately before the credits roll.
The new version actually contradicts the film's subtitle, by never showing Pacino's elderly Godfather dying.
Instead, the film fades to black over a shot of his face, before showing a series of title card before the credits, which read, 'When the Sicilians wish you ‘Cent’anni’ … it means ‘for long life.’ … and a Sicilian never forgets.'
In an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, Coppola explained the significance of the change by noting that 'for his sins, [Michael] has a death worse than death.
'He may have lived many, many years past this terrible conclusion. But he never forgot what he paid for it.'
Auteur: The 81-year-old filmmaker [left, with Pacino and Garcia on set] recently reedited the closing act of his mafia trilogy to create a new version of the film, titled Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, set for release on December 8
Changes: The new ending represents the biggest change to the original cut, which depicted an elderly Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) dying and toppling forward out of his chair immediately before the credits roll
The recut opening dispenses with the footage of Michael's Lake Tahoe home, itself a throwback the infamous ending of The Godfather Part II.
Now, the Coda opening immediately introduces audiences to the sequel's new conflict: the Corleone crime family getting into business with the Vatican.
Moving a later scene forward in the film's sequence, Coda begins with Michael negotiating a multimillion-dollar deal involving the Vatican Bank and a real-estate company.
Coppola explained the importance of the scene, saying 'You get it put right to you: What is the big deal about? The Corleones have reached such a level of success and wealth that they’re able to loan money to the Vatican.'
Auteur: Francis Ford Coppola pictured at the Hollywood Film Awards last year in Beverly Hills
New version: Instead, the film fades to black over a shot of his face, before showing a series of title card before the credits, which read, 'When the Sicilians wish you ‘Cent’anni’ … it means ‘for long life.’ … and a Sicilian never forgets.'
Gone but not forgotten: Above is an image from the film's original death sequence
The new cut is also shorter, trimming nearly 20 minutes from the original three hour run time.
However one element not trimmed was Sofia Coppola's performance as Mary Corleone, which has remained largely untouched despite many years of critical mauling.
Coppola cast his then 18-year-old daughter in the pivotal role after original actress Winona Ryder left the film.
Many critics and fans slammed the performance and dismissed her casting as nepotism, yet according to Matt Singer at ScreenCrush, 'her arc remains fairly intact' in Coda.
Scapegoat: However one element not trimmed was Sofia Coppola's [pictured, left] performance as Mary Corleone, which has remained largely untouched despite many years of critical mauling
Reevaluated: Star Diane Keaton said that detractors of Coppola's performance as the daughter of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) will reconsider it in this new version; Sofia and Francis Ford Coppola seen in 2018
Approved: Although the new cut won't be available to fans until later this month, multiple critics have already praised the changes
Although the new cut won't be available to fans until later this month, multiple critics have already praised the changes.
Mike Ryan was 'surprised' by 'how much better this new GODFATHER III cut felt,' while Singer tweeted, 'I like THE GODFATHER PART III, warts and all. And I like the new THE GODFATHER CODA cut better, which I guess you could say has fewer warts.'
Another fan of the changes is one of the trilogy's original stars, Diane Keaton.
The legendary actress said that viewing the new cut was 'One of the best moments of my life' in a conversation with Variety.
Shocked: Mike Ryan was 'surprised' by 'how much better this new GODFATHER III cut felt'
Me too: Critic Matt Singer was also a fan of the substantial changes
Loving it: Keaton, 74, called the new edit of The Godfather Part III ' a dream come true' in a chat with Variety; seen in May 2019 in LA
'It was one of the best moments of my life to watch it,' Keaton enthused after seeing the film at a private screening Coppola put on at the Paramount lot for herself and her original costars Al Pacino, Talia Shire and George Hamilton.
'To me it was a dream come true. I saw the movie in a completely different light,' she continued.
'When I saw it way back, it was like "Oh, I don’t know." It didn’t seem to do that well and the reviews weren’t great. But Francis restructured the beginning and the end and man, I’m telling you it worked.'
Although the film was a commercial success, earning nearly $137 million against a $54 million budget, many critics were unimpressed with it, particularly compared to the first two Godfather films, which are widely regarded as masterpieces.
'It was one of the best moments of my life to watch it,' Keaton enthused after seeing a private screening on the Paramount Lot with Al Pacino, Talia Shire and George Hamilton
Changes: Director Francis Ford Coppola has recut the film, retitling it Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. The original version left critics cold in 1990, though it was still a box office hit
It turns out that Keaton was among the crowd who didn't care for the Godfather finale.
'I don’t know why people didn’t appreciate it, but I was one of them,' she admitted. 'What was wrong with me? Why didn’t I like this before? But I didn’t. I kind of just dismissed it and thought, "oh well."'
Though she thinks the film as a whole is stronger, the 74-year-old Annie Hall star contends that it will allow detractors to reevaluate Sofia Coppola's performance as Michael Corleone's daughter.
Memories: The Annie Hall star said the new cut brought her back to the happy times of filming, when she was dating her costar Pacino
'That’s not going to happen anymore,' Keaton contended. 'She’s what a daughter would be like if you had this guy as your dad, the head of a criminal organization. She was not so sure of herself and is kind of quiet. Kind of haunted. I thought she was fantastic.'
The actress added that watching the new cut was a blast from the past of a happy time in her life when she was dating her costar Pacino.
'It took me back,' she said. 'At that time, I was kind of with Al. I really liked Andy Garcia. We were shooting in Italy. It was a special time.'
Keaton, who doesn't like to watch herself on screen, said that Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone helped her put aside the aversion temporarily.
Big screen: The new cut will be available on VOD and Blu-ray on December 8, but Keaton hopes people will be able to see it in a theater at some point; pictured in 2018
Though the new version of the film will be released on VOD and Blu-ray, the Reds actress said that the film benefits from the grand scale that only a theater can offer.
'I just hope people can see it in a theater with great music and great sound, so it can sweep you away,' she said. 'I like movies big. I like them in my face. You’re engrossed in them that way. It takes you out of your mundane, idiot life. I speak for myself, of course.'
Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone in digital and physical editions on December 8.