"The Conversation is an intricate and unsettlingly subtle character study... it is the work of a filmmaker at the height of his creativity." It's also a film that, over time, has become near forgotten thanks to poor VHS releases. Shot between the first two Godfather movies, this is essential Coppola that he managed to get made purely on the strength of his work on the first of his mob trilogy. As a surveillance thriller all about sound, this was always going to be an interesting DVD project - given the potential to upgrade it from the old 70s mono track. The opportunity has been realised and a classy disc produced that showcases this classic Coppola for a whole new generation.
A Sound Recording
Originally recorded in mono, the movie's sound engineer, Walter Murch, has personally supervised the new 5.1 mix that comes on the DVD. It's a job well done, with care taken not to be over-ambitious. What we get is clear dialogue for the centre speaker, music spread well between the front speakers, and occasional ambient effects for the rears. Complementing this is a sympathetic picture transfer for a film that was shot in quite drab colours and certainly looks authentically 70s on disc.
Godfather Seals The Deal
The most insightful extra feature on the disc is the audio commentary by Coppola. He talks frankly and precisely about every aspect of the film, from getting it financed - by promising to make a second Godfather - to influences like Blow Up, to falling out with his cinematographer and much more. Interesting, detailed and absolutely confident in what he's saying, this is a good track.
Dryer in tone, but with some solid input into what happened on the production, is the other commentary track by editor Walter Murch. Rounded off with a vintage featurette on the movie where we see Coppola directing Hackman, this is an essential disc to own in any good surveillance thriller collection (which will be pretty small!).
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-N5 DVD player.