Francis Ford Coppola Admits He ‘Didn’t Really Know How’ to Film ’The Godfather’

Making any movie is a difficult task. Making what is often considered one of the greatest movies of all time may be even harder. As The Godfather nears its 50th anniversary, director Francis Ford Coppola talks about the difficult task of making this mobster epic, calling it a “very tough experience.”

Francis Ford Coppola says he didn’t know how to make ‘The Godfather’

Franics Ford Coppola attends a screening for the 50th anniversary of The Godfather.
Franics Ford Coppola | Amy Sussman

For the 50th anniversary of The Godfather, Coppola, Paramount, and American Zoetrope are working together to create a new restoration of the film. This latest version is created through the use of improved technology and higher-quality sources of the film to fix some of the flaws and stains. 

In a video interview with James Mockoski, the film archivist and restoration supervisor for American Zoetrope, for The New York Times, Coppola says that anytime he revisits the film, he is reminded of the difficult time he had during production, but also the pride he has in creating it. 

“You have to understand, as a filmmaker, I didn’t really know how to make The Godfather,” Coppola said. “I learned how to make The Godfather making it.”

Coppola tells The New York Times that when he was making the film, he wasn’t as concerned about the details that he is dealing with while working on this restoration for the 50th anniversary. 

“I can’t say that it was my nature to be worried about photographic detail,” Coppola explains. “The Godfather was a very tough experience for me. I was young. I got pushed around and I pushed back. There was a lot of bluffing I did. I was just glad I had survived the experience of The Godfather and I wanted nothing more to do with it. I didn’t even want to direct Godfather II.

There isn’t a thing Coppola would change about ‘The Godfather’

Recently, Coppola released a re-edited version of the third film in the trilogy titled The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. The third film is typically regarded as the worst of the trilogy and this new version changes the order of the narrative and edits some scenes in and out. However, Coppola says there is nothing he would change about The Godfather 50 years later. 

“I would say there’s no changes I want to make,” Coppola states. “There are some pictures that I have and am changing and some I won’t touch. But there’s no rule of thumb as to which those are.”

Coppola is proud that ‘The Godfather’ is the movie he is best known for

Coppola has a large filmography with plenty of other award-winning films. Apocalypse Now is a classic war movie and another Best Picture nominee. Many film buffs also enjoy The Outsiders, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and The Conversation. However, most people will associate him with being the director of The Godfather, and Coppola, now 82, says he is ok with this being his legacy. 

I think it’s already the movie I’m most known for,” Coppola says. “If you ask everyone to name why I should be at all even considered of importance, they’ll say The Godfather. Maybe Apocalypse Now is a close second. Apocalypse Now is a more unusual and more interesting movie, in some ways. But I was always making films that I actually did not know how to make and learning from the film itself. That’s why my career is so weird.”

The restored versions of The Godfather will be available for the 50th anniversary in 4k Ultra HD on March 22. 

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