Wednesday, June 07, 2006
The Godfather Part IV
Thinking about The Godfather films the other day (see Movies on My Mind: "La Festa: Music & Murder"), got me to wondering some more about the possibilities of a Part IV. (Mario Puzo himself briefly discussed the likelihood of a fourth installment in the DVD extras of The Godfather Collection.) Sure, there's a million reasons NOT to do it, but if Paramount Pictures ever seriously considers it, I think they need to scrap the idea of trying to adapt the novel The Godfather Returns (what a disaster that would be) and consider the safer (albeit more derivative) approach, of Part III. Here's my suggestion: Stick to the original idea Puzo had. Have Part IV be similar to Part II, intertwining the career of Vincent Corleone (Andy Garcia) with the early years of his father Santino "Sonny" Corleone (Leonardo Decaprio). This allows for a story to unfold that doesn't require recasting actors who are far too old to play the parts (Al Pacino, Robert Duvall) or have since passed away (Marlon Brando, John Cazale). The flash back sequence (which would take place in the 1930s) could allow Robert DeNiro (who won the Oscar for playing the young Don Vito in Part II) to reprise his role as a now slightly older (pre-Brando) Vito. The screenplay should be written by Francis Ford Coppola, with a story credit to Mario Puzo. While it could certainly contain some of the familiar lines from the series, it shouldn't be bogged down by them. Coppola -- or perhaps even Martin Scorsese -- could direct. As for the plot? The plot doesn't really matter. It has never really mattered in a Godfather film. The drama of individual scenes will carry enough of a plot to satisfy even the most ardent Godfather fan if done right. Keep Nino Rota's brilliant score; don't try to "update" the sound of the music with a more contemporary sound. Rota's music is as much a part of the series' mystique as anything else. Set the current days events in the late 1990, as the Mafia is falling apart and Vincent reaches out past cultural lines to form alliances. Somehow work in scenes that take place in Italy, and make the flashback scenes of 1930s New York meticulously accurate. Give the film a grand scope but a deeply personal center. Have Vincent die at the end, in a double cross and hail of bullets, and fade back to a time when Sonny thought he could rule the world.