Podcast: An offer you can’t refuse

By Danny Marchant


Last Thursday night, Cinemark Theater made an offer to audiences they couldn’t refuse: The chance to see “The Godfather Part II” on the big screen.

Regardless of how many times you’ve watched them at home, there’s no experience like seeing your favorite films where they were meant to be seen: At the movie theater.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the original “Godfather,” Paramount Pictures and several theaters have joined together to showcase screenings of “The Godfather” and its sequel. The versions released were the recent restorations supervised by director and cowriter Francis Ford Coppola himself. The original film has been cleaned up with a clearer picture and improved soundtrack. This restoration set is currently available on both DVD and Blu-Ray.

While last Thursday’s screening was a nationwide event, Cinemark offers many beloved classics on a semi-regular basis. Past events have included showings of classic films like “Casablanca” and more contemporary hits like “Fight Club”.

Not only did fans have a chance to see “Part II” as it was meant to be seen, but also had the opportunity to see it on Cinemark’s new Extreme Digital Cinema. This new venue features an oversize screen, amplified sound and crystal-clear projection. Watching “The Godfather Part II” under these circumstances was like seeing the film for the first time in 1974. Any true fan of the saga will get goosebumps upon hearing the main theme for the first time in digital surround sound.

“The Godfather Part II” is arguably the best sequel ever made. Picking up where the first film left off, “Part II” crosscuts between the rise of the Corleone family and its expansion in the film’s present day. A young Vito Corleone, in an Academy Award-winning performance by Robert DeNiro, comes to America and slowly establishes himself as the most respected crime lord in New York City. Meanwhile in 1958, his son Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, operates as the new Don with a presence everywhere from Nevada to Havana.

It’s the fastest 200-minute film you’ll ever see – Cinemark included a 10-minute intermission, a tool rarely used in filmmaking today. The pacing for such a complicated story is impeccable as the viewer is consumed in Coppola and author Mario Puzo’s tale of family, corruption and moral bankruptcy. While the imagery and language of “The Godfather” saga is often associated with crime and the Mafia, the heart of the film is in its romanticized portrayal of family.

“Part II,” even more so than its impressive predecessor, is an epic film, lasting three hours and spanning decades. Never has Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola’s score swept you off so dramatically and emotionally. Initially the film received minor criticism for being so dark, not thematically but literally. Gordon Willis’ now universally-lauded cinematography often bathes his subjects in total blackness. Now, with the restoration, it’s possible to see what Coppola and Willis had in mind.

Fans should try to see their favorite films in a movie theater. In this age of Netflix and Hulu, it’s hard to remember what a special event it is to see a movie. Filmmakers often speak of the unique experience of sitting in a darkened theater with a group of strangers and going on an escapist journey with each other. What separates film from video is watching the movie in its original 35mm format where audiences see the true vision of the director. Movie theaters are the only places that can provide the complete package, despite the efforts of home theater systems.

There’s also a nostalgic sense of what it must have felt like to be one of the initial viewers of such a masterpiece. With that, there’s the even more gratifying sense that for some in the theater that night, this was their first time seeing a movie that will stay with them forever.

If there are any further opportunities to see “The Godfather Part II” as part of this 40th anniversary celebration, it would be prudent take part in it. This same idea goes for all screenings of past classics, as these are often once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Be sure to check Cinemark’s website for future events such as these.

Danny Marchant can be reached at [email protected]. Kevin Romani can be reached at [email protected].

Podcast: The Godfather Part II