Once Upon Time America [Blu-ray]  [US Import]
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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.
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.Read more ›
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 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.
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
Once...America is Leone returning to the form suggested by 1969's ultimate spaghetti western Once Upon a Time in the West- films like I'm Gonna Get You Sucka! (aka A Fistful of Dynamite) somehow mediocre. As with ...West, Leone failed to get Clint Eastwood on board here- though with a cast featuring great performances from De Niro (of course), James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Treat Williams & a (very) young Jennifer Connelly, he's hardly missed. There are also some great cameos from stalwarts such as Joe Pesci (against type), Danny Aiello & Burt Young.
It seemed absurd that this film, occasionlly shown on TV, was not available on video/DVD, & yet you could buy the (excellent)BFI book on it. The extra features are wonderful additions to this great gangster epic. Once...America for me is the end of the gangster genres- while Goodfellas (1990) was the brilliant encore, yet to be bettered. It is easily up there with the first two Godfather films, or Mean Streets- though it's complex flashback structure has more in common with Godfather Part II, or more pertinently, Nic Roeg films like Don't Look Now & Performance.
The film starts somewhere in the middle of things, shifting backwards and forwards revealing more about the before & after- taking in a gang of Jewish criminals between 1922 & 1968.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fantastic old gangster movie with De Niro at the front leading the way, guns, drugs, and New York. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Scott
Often extended versions of major films can undermine the success of the original. I felt that the extended version of ‘Terminator 2’ undermined the tight pacing of the original;... Read morePublished 2 months ago by James
SUPERFiLM : Once upon a time in America considered by many the best Movie of all times is a masterpiece of Movies and Cinema . Read morePublished 2 months ago by Gentille Adrian Buzatu
One of the worst films I've ever endured. It's unbelievably slow, long drawn out film. Found my self watching parts of it double speed. Read morePublished 2 months ago by OlIbob