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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly brilliant - but be sure you buy the correct version
This film is one of my 10 favourites of all time. It is utterly brilliant. There are plenty of other five-star reviews on this site that you can read for details of why it is so brilliant. I'm not going to repeat what other reviewers have said, so I will just offer one VERY IMPORTANT piece of advice:

Make sure you buy the longest version you can find...
Published on 31 May 2011 by newzild

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars great film - very very poor rendition onto Blu-Ray
Was really very disappointed about this. I know that it flips back and forth in time - and was made in the 80s - but that isnt really excuseable for the dull and lack of brightness transfer. Dr No from 1962 being a very good example ofwhere it can be done well.
Still a good film
Still a timeless film score
But not worth adding to your BD collection
Published 23 months ago by Ginola14


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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly brilliant - but be sure you buy the correct version, 31 May 2011
This film is one of my 10 favourites of all time. It is utterly brilliant. There are plenty of other five-star reviews on this site that you can read for details of why it is so brilliant. I'm not going to repeat what other reviewers have said, so I will just offer one VERY IMPORTANT piece of advice:

Make sure you buy the longest version you can find.

A European lab is currently (May, 2011) restoring the original 269 minute version, which is likely to premiere at Cannes in 2012.

Leone's European version ran 229 minutes, and it appears that this Blu-ray product is that version. The 229 minute European version is the one that is currently considered to be a classic. I've seen it two or three times, and I love every minute of it.

When this film was released in the United States, distributors insisted that it be cut further. The film was slashed to 139 incomprehensible minutes, and the numerous flashback scenes were shifted into chronological order. The result was a disaster, and this is why there are still some poor reviews for the film floating around the 'net (all from American critics). I saw this version once myself, and it was indeed rubbish.

So there you are. Buy this version - which is the best currently available - and you will not be disappointed.
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74 of 80 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray review, 12 Feb 2011
By 
THE FILM
There's not much to say that hasn't been said already. 'Once Upon a Time in America' is without a doubt one of the best films of all time. A grand tale of nostalgia and regret directed by a legendary filmmaker. Robert De Niro, James Woods and the rest of the cast all give great performances. Ennio Morricone's score is simply beautiful.
No film buff should miss it.

THE DISC
The transfer looks quite good. There are no distracting compression artifacts or other anomalies. There is no excessive DNR and the image looks natural. It might not be a demo-worthy material but it is truthful to the original look of the film and a significant improvement over the DVD release.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track, while not spectacular, is very clear and precise. There's not much happening in the surround channels but it is an accurate representation of the original, almost 30-year-old soundtrack.
All in all, this Blu-ray release is the best the film has ever looked on home video and truthful to the original theatrical presentation.

Highly recommended.

Available audio tracks: English (DTS-MA), Spanish, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish (all DD 5.1)
Available subtitles: English, Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, Spanish, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Korean, Latin Spanish, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blu Review 77 Once Upon a Time in America extended cut, 8 Jun 2013
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Once Upon a Time in America extended cut

Distributor: Warner Home Video (Italy)

For anyone who has yet to experience Sergio Leone's epic masterpiece, Once Upon a Time in America is a movie that simply has everything going for it. With a deeply engrossing plot to keep you guessing right through to the final frame, top tier performances from an exceptional cast, a phenomenal and highly memorable soundtrack and superb direction from one of Italy's most respected film makers, this is actually one of the few titles that could seriously give The Godfather a run for its money to the title of best gangster/mob movie of all time.

The film has endured a huge following over the years but not without its fair share of controversy. Originally released at 229 minutes in length, this was later cut down for American audiences to a mere 139 minutes making certain aspects of the movie unrecognisable and creating much dissatisfaction among movie goers everywhere. The original longer cut was certainly a different film and soon became recognised as the only way to see the movie. The story however does not end there as it was well known that Sergio Leone had actually cut around 40 minutes of footage from his original release which would have made the full running running time of the movie around 269 minutes in length and film collectors everywhere soon began pining for an even longer extended version.

Despite much talk of releasing a longer cut, Leone unfortunately passed away in 1989 and all hope of ever seeing his original vision became lost until 2011 when it was announced that Leone's children together with the films original sound editor would attempt to recreate the 269 minute cut using the remaining out-take footage. The new restoration of the film premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, however due to unforeseen rights issues for the deleted scenes, the film's latest cut actually ended up being 251 minutes, although Martin Scorsese (whose Film Foundation helped with the film's restoration) stated that he is helping Leone's children get the rights to the final 24 minutes of deleted scenes to eventually make a complete version of Leone's original 269 minute print. In August 2012, it was reported that the newly restored version of the film that had premiered at the Cannes festival had been pulled from circulation pending further restoration work, however 3 months later this 251 minute version found its way to blu-ray release exclusively in Italy.

Okay, so that's the history lesson out of the way, so how about the actual blu-ray?

Comprising of around 22 minutes of extra re-inserted material this was always going to be a controversial release among the legions of film fans everywhere with opinions differing as to whether the new material actually serves any real purpose to the films already impressive running time. The scene extensions themselves do add some extra narrative and character development although some extensions probably work better than others.

As for the actual quality of the presentation, it would appear as though even the blu-ray itself is not without its fair share of controversy. Firstly the studio is stated to have made the new extended cut using a 4k master which generally looks pretty impressive (although the newly inserted extra material is easily spotted by the noticeable drop in quality) Secondly somewhere along the line, the newly scanned transfer has also resulted in a colour change which again has its share of detractors as well many other people who have stated that they now prefer the newer tones as looking more natural. Finally and perhaps most controversially, the Italian distributor released the now 251 minute movie on one single blu-ray disc, once again causing much internet debate with rumours of unnecessary compression artefacts now being highly noticeable throughout the presentation.

So with all of this baggage going in, it was certainly going to prove to be an interesting title to review.

Presented region B locked with a 1080p 1.85:1 transfer, the first thing long time fans will notice is the aforementioned change in colour. Blacks are certainly more subdued than the previous blu-ray release although there is definitely an argument to be had over which of the two colour palates looks more natural. Detail is reasonably impressive especially during long shots which pick up previously unseen information, however the main complaints over this release appear to centre around a perceived abundance of compression artefacts throughout the transfer. On viewing the presentation, rumours of severe and persistent problems throughout the print would appear to be highly exaggerated as although certain scenes exhibit a very minor presence of a grain like substance, this in no way spoils the presentation in what is overall a pretty decent transfer (the obvious exception again being the newly inserted footage which is sadly of a far lesser quality)

Audio is presented with Italian Mono and DTS 5.1 options as well as an English DTS 5.1 track.
The Italian tracks actually seem the louder and perhaps more atmospheric of the three however the English track delivers an overall pleasing performance with clear dialogue and the always impressive score now sounding better than ever, although it's really only your front speakers that will have any work to do during the presentation.

Extra features are unfortunately none existent, however you could argue that the presence of the extra material exclusive to this release is reason enough to generate interest here, although it would certainly have been beneficial to have included a documentary or two on the film itself or even on the new restoration, albeit on a separate disc.

All things considered, if you hold anything more than a passing interest in the film then this release certainly makes for a compelling watch and an excellent disc to have in your collection and at an import price of around £12 delivered, it is far from expensive. Whether or not the extended version will ever make it to blu-ray in other territories or perhaps even be bettered is quite frankly anyone's guess but ultimately the choice to wait or to take this version as it currently stands is fortunately your own.

Not surprisingly, for a film already steeped this deep in controversy, the ongoing debate looks set to run for some time yet...

BLU REVIEW OBSCURA - blu-ray reviews for lesser mainstream movies - find us at blureviewobscura.yolasite.com and join the discussion at our exclusive Facebook group
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Without a doubt, The greatest film ever made!, 15 July 2012
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This review is from: Once Upon A Time In America [DVD] [1984] (DVD)
Never before have i been more moved, absorbed and engrossed by a film like i have by Sergio Leone's, Once Upon A Time In America. This is one of a very select range of films were absolutely everything hits the mark. Though its almost 4 hours in length the film flies by and i seriously doubt you'll see a more glouriously artistic film.

The film is told in a non-liner way. It appears a simple story, the charting of 4 friends who rise from the slums and hit the big time during prohibiton, until the mafia comes calling. But there are many twists and turns along the way that challenge their friendship. The film brilliantly explodes a great number of lifes topics including, love, greed, betrayal and loss. The film itself is beautifully shot by Leone, who clearly dedicated a lot of time to the mood and atmosphere, and it really does show.

The acting is top draw. Robert De Niro proves yet again why hes one of the greatest actors of all time with his troubled portrayal of Noodles, whilst James Woods is superb as wanna-be big shot Max. Both James Hayden and William Forsythe (Patsy and Cockeye) are quietly excellent in their backing roles to Woods and De Niro, helping to create a strong sense of friendship and make the audience care. Other shout outs go to Teusday Weld, Richard Bright (in a short appearence), Larry Rapp, Treat Williams and Elizabeth McGovern who are all great in their roles.

Arguably the greatest part is Ennio Morricone's incredible score. Its so moving, one of the few scores that could bring a tear to my eye. It does exactly what it is meant to do and enhances certain scenes so much.

Many see this film as too dated (even though its set in the 20s/30s and the set is wonderful) or a Godfather rip-off (I love The Godfather and i love America, yet they are massively different). All i can say is get the film and be prepaired to be bowled over by ,in my eyes, the greatest film ever made.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sergio Leone Classic Blu Ray delight, 16 Jan 2011
By 
S. R. Williams (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have just finished watching my American Blu Ray version, which should be identical to the forthcoming UK release, I am happy to say that Once upon a Time in America looks fabulous in HD, the picture is sharp, colour pallet is excellent, the flashbacks to their childhood still hold the sepia hue as intended, the extras are exactly the same as on the 2 disc SE which is a shame would have been nice to have a new documentary. The whole uncut film is on one disc, I love this film and have always held it in high regard since I first saw a copy on VHS in my teens.
Is the upgrade to HD worth it for those that have the 2 disc DVD, without a shadow of a doubt, this film has never looked so good, it may not knock your socks off like Avatar or LOTR but then it wasn't expected to.
I still think this is one of the best gangster movies out there and worth having in everyone's collection, yes it can be slow at times, yes it is quite violent and can have some unsettling scenes but Sergio is in a class of his own (even though i am not keen on Fistful of Dynamite).
Many have speculated over the film is it a drug induced dream etc, I have always had a couple of nagging doubts about a few things set in the 60's so it may have been, after all if Max was the senitor wouldn't his picture have been in the press or on TV and wouldn't noodles have spotted it at least once? I know fat moe states he hasn't seen his sister in a while but as she became a big stage star surley he would have know who she married and wouldn't there have been a few pictures of the happy couple doing the rounds.............but apart from these I have and will always champion this movie.
Do I think anyone interested in this film should upgrade, yes without hesitation.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four hours will never be better spent., 4 Feb 2004
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Once Upon A Time In America [DVD] [1984] (DVD)
My oh my.There is a distinct polarisation of opinion of this film on the Amazon website.As you can see from the five stars i believe this is a truly great film, a classic ,a masterpiece.Yes it,s long, yes it,s slow, yes the lead characters are amoral thugs but none of this matters.This labyrinthine tale of Jewish gangsters subsides to an emotional core that is sombre and elgaic and ultimately moving.Those who don,t get it....well i suggest they consult a doctor because they may well have a lump of sandblasted tar instead of a heart.
Sergio Leone,s interpretation of Harry Grey,s "The Hoods" takes an average pulp thriller and transforms it into a complex epic that slips easily between three time periods and gradually reveals a monumental betrayal.The genesis and evolution of the characters story is beleivable and though the fact that the screenplay was produced by Italians means the dialouge is occasionally clunky it,s never unrealistic or unintentionally humourous.
Robert De Niro plays the adult "David "Noodles" Aaronson" who in one of the films lighter scenes(played by the child actors who potray the characters in their younger years , obviously) meets Max played by James Woods who quickly becomes fellow leader of the gang Noodles ran.Noodles has the hots for the daughter of the local bar owner, Deborah played by Jennifer Connelly, and it,s the dichotomy between Noodles deep friendship with Max and his love for Deborah that provide much of the films narrative momentum.The gang gradually progress to become criminals of some repute,most of which occurs while Noodles is in prison for kniving a rival gang leader, but they are still employed by a mob boss played by Joe Pesci to intervene in industrial disputes or murder fellow mobsters.
Max has a fixation with robbing the federal reserve which Noodles knows is a scuicide mission,so in order to save his friend he turns them in to the police but the arrest goes horribly wrong and they all perish.Noodles is now alone and pursued by henchman of a vengeful mob boss. Wisely he decides to escape taking all the gangs ill gotten gains only to discover it,s all gone.He has no alternative but to leave town on the first bus out which goes to some back of beyond town where he spends the next thirty years.....until a letter arrives offering him money for one last job.Knowing they,ve found him he returns only to discover things are not what they seem.
This is a sumptuous film,beautifully shot which looks great on DVD compared to my old grainy video copy.Leone,s trademark technique of lingering on characters faces is used extensively but all the actors are superb and carry it off easily,particually De Niro playing the old stooped Noodles.Some of the scenes as he visits old haunts and comes across old acquaintances are astonishingly poignant.Ennio Morricone,s extraordinary evocative score plays a major part in this.Apparantly it was played on set to help the actors find the right mood.It worked beautifully.
Noodles is not a particually sympathetis character but his violent past clearly haunts him.His betrayal, his rape of Deborah when he realises she intends to leave him behind in her life,the men he killed all weigh heavily on his mind and its testimony to Leone that he manages to make the audience care about these misanthropic people.
The complaints about the point at which the film cuts to the scond disc are fully justified.Whoever made this crass decision should be ashamed.The commentary by film critic Richard Shickel is a tad dull and at times a bit patronising but theres a doccumentary to add a bit more depth.But i buy DVD,s for the film and they don,t come better than "Once Upon a Time in America".Ignore the grumpys, this a terrific film and anyone who complains because the ending is ambiguous should really stick to Michael Bay movies."Once Upon a Time in America " is magnificent cinema.Peerless.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Longest version available (not restored), 18 May 2014
By 
Diego Cordoba - See all my reviews
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It took Sergio Leone more than 20 years to finally get this film done, as he had wanted to follow his Dollar trilogy westerns with this one, but was told by the studios that films about gangsters weren’t popular anymore since the 40’s. However, Leone’s idea gave way first to Bonnie and Clyde, a film that immitated Leone’s cinematic style and the relentelss violence, and this would eventually lead to the Godfather films. But even so, Leone had a hard time selling this to any studio, until a millionaire who wanted to get involved in the movie business helped with the funding, and the film finally got made in the 80’s.

This film features an almost all-American cast (though some of Leone’s Italian stock of second role actors do appear; see Mario Brega, as an evil hired gun), and was Leone’s ode to America at the turn of the century (the 20th, that is), that has never been so acurately depicted since (and remember, there’s no CGI whatsoever in this movie).

However, Leone’s ambition proved too heavy for most studios to handle, and his slightly over 4 hour opus got trimmed down to three and a half hours in Europe (and to two hours in US, where it was also re-edited, and gone were Leone’s famous flash-back sequences, which keep the mystery about the whole story; in America it was edited in chronological order, and becomes a silly mess).

Saying that this is one of the best films ever made, and that they don’t make ’em like this anymore, is an accurate description of this wonderful film; from its cinematography to its musical score and the acting and story, this film practically beats them all… that is if they had kept Leone’s original edit (or director’s cut). As is, the European version, which is still available in both DVD and Blu-Ray all over the world, is already a treat, yet some characters appear and disapppear with no explanation, leaving you out cold and thinking that something is certainly amiss from this monster-sized film.

Now, with the accord of Leone’s children, 25 further minutes have been inserted thanks to the Cineteca of Bologna (sadly, they weren’t restored, hence it getting one star less). There was talk of Martin Scorsese getting involved in a major restoration for a worldwide distribution, but this hasn’t happened yet, so for the time being we'll have to do with this new Italian version.

The audio is in both English and Italian, but the Italain version is only mono and the original English version in 5.1 digital. The quality of the missing scenes varies, making the word “restoration” seem far-fetched (a particular scene taking place in the graveyard is simply awful in picture quality).

For those who already know or own previous versions of the film, here’s a round down on the missing or restored scenes (again “restored” is too big a word, I’d rather chosen the new unrestored, unmastered scenes that were cut from Leone’s first attempted edit).

--------------SPOILERS FOLLOWING (DON’T KEEP ON READING UNLESS YOU ALREADY KNOW THE FILM)---------------------------

1. When Noodles comes back to his neighborhood in 1968, he goes to the new cemetary to see where his friends were put to rest. He discovers a grand mausoleum instead with a commemorative plaque saying that it was built by a certain David Aronson “Noodles” (De Niro’s original character’s name in the film). De Niro, who after disappearing has gone under the name of James Williams meets the director of the graveyard (played by Louise Fletcher, the crazy nurse in One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest) and asks who really paid for the mausoleum, as he'd like to meet the donor, and she can’t really tell him as the money was sent in from a foreign bank account. Leaving the cemetary Noodles sees a black car following him. He will later see the same car exploding in the TV news, saying it had been an attempt against the life of a certain Senator Bailey.

2. After killing Joe Monaldi (Burt Young), Noodles, along with his childhood friends, drives the car over the pier and lands in the water. Everyone pulls out of the water except for Noodles. His companions, including his best friend Max (James Woods), start to look worriedly around for him. In the end Noodles reapppears and has just played back the same joke Max had played on them when they were kids and recuperating the boxes of whiskey.

3. Noodles talks with Deborah’s (Elizabeth McGovern) chauffeur (played by Arnon Milchan, the film’s producer), and asks how it feels to earn almost nothing, while he (De Niro’s character) is one the most respected and well-known gangsters in the area. The chauffeur replies that at least his job is an honest one and without risks. This scene takes place prior to the rape scene.

4. Noodles meets Eve after his incident with Deborah. Eve (played by Darlanne Fluegel who was told she’d be a major star after this film, yet most of her scenes were cut out), one of the protitutes from the gang's joint, will later become Noodles’ lover after Deborah, his childhood love, leaves town. We also see Eve at the beginning of the film, yet in the European/International version it’s never quite clear what her role in the film is, since in that version we never know when she and Noodles got to know each other.

5. Noodles, back in New York after many years, wants to see Deborah for a last time, and learns that she has become a famous stage actress. Noodles assists to a play of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, where Deborah plays the role of the Queen of Egypt and wants to commit suicide by getting bit by an asp. Marc Antony, her lover and a traitor to Rome, will soon follow suit. The whole play rings close to Noodles’ own life, as everyone believes he betrayed his friends.

6. Discussion between the Senator Bailey (James Woods) and Attorney O’Donnell (Treat Williams). Since the gang of Max and Noodles had helped O’Donnell previously, back in the 30’s when he was a syndicalist for the truckers, O’Donnell discovers who Bailey really is many years later and risks to blow up his cover.

These are the six scenes missing from the previous European/International version, that help to further explain this sometimes complicated plot (it’s not until the very end that you really begin to piece the whole film together).

As is, don’t expect the missing scenes to have been restored, they were simply added from the unedited rushes that were left out due to its overbearing length. Are they important? Yes. Is this version worthwhile? It depends on what you think about the film. Those who loved it will certainly want to get this Italian version (again, it contains the original English track in all missing scenes), as the restored version announced at Cannes in 2012 doesn’t seem to show up anymore.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No great revelations in the new extended edition and a very disappointing Italian pressing, but a must for lovers of the film, 9 Dec 2012
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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NB: As is Amazon's Wont, they've very unhelpfully bundled all the reviews for various editions and formats together. This review refers to the Italian Blu-ray release of the new extended edition that premiered at Cannes in 2012 and WHV's Blu-ray and DVD of the 229-minute version released in Europe.

Once Upon a Time in America is one of those films that seems to gain in stature with each viewing - indeed, it's one of the few films to match a great novel for complexity, and can be interpreted in a number of ways. In many ways it's a film where you have to choose for yourself which interpretation is the right one, as it can support several: a memory, a fable about resurrection (certainly the first thing he sees on his return to New York is the dead being raised from a cemetery by trucks), a tableaux of American social history, even just a simple gangster saga that's surprisingly light on violence for its running time (though what there is is vicious). I've always regarded the film as being about the way we reinterpret our memories depending on our present circumstances (thus the lowest point of Noodles' life becomes, in the final shot, the happiest once he knows the truth), but on subsequent viewing noticed far more evidence to support the opium dream interpretation that Leone floated without ever committing himself to. Certainly everything in the final scene outside Senator Bailey's house points to it: the garbage truck with 35 (the number of years Noodles has been `going to bed early'), the Chinese pagoda in the background, the drunken revellers celebrating the end of prohibition (in 1968!) are all pulling him back to the Chinese opium den as if he were coming down from a trip. I doubt there is a right or a wrong interpretation - it's all in the eye of the beholder. And the filmmaking is still incredibly ambitious and effective - huge chunks of the film are dialog-free, carried by performance, camera and Morricone's yearning score, while there's been nothing to match the sheer audacity of the phone call sequence in the three decades since it was made.

And now, after decades of rumours and false starts, not to mention the multiple cut American versions that existed over the years, the almost-complete extended version of Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America finally reaches Blu-ray and DVD, albeit only in Italy at the moment. Thankfully the disc is English-friendly, with English soundtrack and subtitle options as well as Italian. Not so thankfully the now 250-minute film has been put on one extras-free single disc with very disappointing picture quality considering the restored version was originally mastered in 4k. While you expect to make allowances for the 22 minutes or so of restored footage - though perhaps not quite as many as are needed here - the same shouldn't be said of the rest of the film, but sadly the inconsistent picture quality is at times a bit substandard for Blu-ray, lacking detail, not coping well with shadows in some scenes and with very different colour grading to the 229-minute theatrical version that gives it a kind of metallic sepia tone that will be recognisable to any of the film' fans who saw the lavish large promotional brochure for the film that has become a collector's item. But for now, Warner's uncharacteristically substandard disc is the only game in town if you want to see the longest version of the film.

Strictly speaking this isn't quite a director's cut, and not just because it's been restored by Leone's children from his own cutting notes. The 229-minute version was his preferred version, but he planned to incorporate the deleted scenes into a longer version for European TV that got abandoned in the wake of the film's disastrous initial reception. There's nothing here that's essential to the story or which adds much to the film: this is more a version for people who love the film and want more. Louise Fletcher's restored scene at the cemetery is fairly redundant and not particularly well played (it also boasts quite atrocious picture quality), Elizabeth McGovern's Katherine Hepburnesque death scene from Antony and Cleopatra tends to slow the picture down and much of the rest is filling in gaps: in this version, Noodles is a witness to the car bomb that kills a senate hearing witness, while his relationship with Darlanne Fluegel is much more fleshed out (albeit awkwardly placed after the rape scene), underlining his sexual immaturity. There's a brief exchange with his chauffeur about the Nazis and Jews ("Jews don't have to be like Italians and look up to criminals") but it's clear that producer Arnon Milchan's performance led to that being cut from the film. The longest addition is a final scene with Treat Williams' Jimmy Hoffa-like union boss and James Woods that shows how the balance of power between the two has shifted, but while it's interesting it spells out too much of what's coming in the finale and is a bit redundant.

The greatest strengths remain those of the 229-minute version: the elegiac mood, the unhurried visual storytelling that makes such an impression in the opening of the film in particular, the ambitious structure shifting between three different time periods as it follows the workings of its anti-hero's memory, the details whose importance don't become apparent until a second viewing such as the bricked up door in the bar, Ennio Morricone's melancholy and yearning score, and the excellent performances from De Niro when he still cared about his work, James Woods and the underpraised child actors who do such an impressive job of embodying the actors who will play the gang in the main body of the film. It's what we've already seen that makes the film such a spellbinding and surprisingly rich and complex experience for those who are on its wavelength. Yet while there are no great revelations and no great transformations in this extended version, it's still a must for lovers of the film. It's just a shame that this version hasn't been mastered on home video with the kind of care and attention it deserves.

By comparison, Warner's release of the 229-minute director's cut comes with an audio commentary, 19-minute extract from documentary Once Upon a Time - Sergio Leone, stills gallery and theatrical trailer - though be warned that that for no good reason the DVD version has a terrible side-break (unlike the BD, the DVD is spread over two discs), especially for a film with an intermission that would have been so much more appropriate.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leone's final epic, 24 Mar 2008
By 
S J Buck (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Once Upon A Time In America [DVD] [1984] (DVD)
OUATIA is an epic film in every sense. It follows the life of 'Noodles' (Robert De Niro) from early adolesense to adult and then as an older man discovering the truth about his past that he thought was dead and buried.

The cast are superb with DeNiro and James Woods as Max (at his most charismatic) playing the two leading roles roles. In the fact if anything the sections with the younger actors playing the adolesent Noodles and Max were probably even better.

Leone's view of the American gangster era is a little more poetic than say Goodfellas and The Godfather. The pace of this film is more measured. Its beautifully shot and a wonderful looking film. When the violence happens though, it is as viseral as anything you will find in those other two great gangster films. In particular there are two rape scenes, which whilst not that explicit tell you a lot about 'Noodles' attitude to women.

One of the characters in the film is called James Conway O'Donnell (as displayed in the cast list), but he is referred to as Jimmy Conway in the film. Interestingly Jimmy Conway was DeNiro's character in Goodfellas.

For me its just short of 5 stars. The reason is the length. At three hours and 40 minutes its just too long. I felt that it could have been trimmed a little (say 20 mins) and the film would have a little sharper. But this is a very minor critcism of what is otherwise a superb film.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blu-Ray: upcoming Italian edition Director's Cut, 4 Aug 2011
By 
Giorgio (Como (CO), Italy) - See all my reviews
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Some might be interested in knowing that Sergio Leone's sons have recently reacquired - for the italian market - the rights for this masterpiece, and are proceding to a full restoration in order to produce (rumor has it, in 2012) the Director's Cut originally intended by Leone.

Meaning, more than FOURTY additional minutes of footage - originally cut due to the length of the movie - will be re-integrated. I don't know about you, but I've been hoping for years this would happen.

The restoration will probably be supervised by some big name, most likely Scorsese or Tarantino, but that's just rumors for the time being.

Guess I'll be waiting to purchase that blu-ray...

UPDATE 16/10/2012: and here we go! The 7th of December 2012 is the scheduled release date for the restored Director's Cut of OUATIA. Later on, it will be released a boxset including both of the film versions...

UPDATE 17/12/2012: and... the Director's cut blu-ray sucks. They had the genius of stuffing a 4 1/2 hour long movie, with multiple hd tracks, onto a single BD. Compression and artifacts are all over the place. Idiots. I'll wait for a new release, respectful of Leone's art.
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