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Once Upon a Time in the West - Special Collector's Edition (2 discs) [DVD] 
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A mysterious woman in the Old West is in danger from a band of ruthless gunmen.
Sergio Leone had to be persuaded to return to the Western for Once Upon a Time in the West after the success of his "Dollars" trilogy. The result is a masterpiece that expands the vision of the earlier movies in every way. It could as easily have been called The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Blonde as Charles Bronson steps into the No-Name role as the harmonica-playing vengeance seeker, Henry Fonda trashes his Wyatt Earp image as a dead-faced, blue-eyed killer who has sold out to the rapacious railroad; Jason Robards provides humanitarian footnotes as a life-loving but doomed bandit and the astonishingly beautiful Claudia Cardinale shows that all these grown-up little boys are less fit to make a country than one determined widow-mother-whore-angel-everywoman. The opening sequence--Woody Strode, Al Mulock and Jack Elam waiting for a train and bothered by a fly and dripping water--is masterful bravura, homing in on tiny details for a fascinating but eventless length of time before Bronson arrives for the lightning-fast shoot-out. With striking widescreen compositions and epic running time, this picture truly wins points for length and width.
On the DVD: Once Upon a Time in the West on disc is the transfer fans have been waiting for: the longest available version of the film in shimmering widescreen (enhanced for 16:9 TVs) which lends full impact to Leone's long shots of Monument Valley scenery or bustling crowds of activity, but also highlights his ultra-close images as Bronson's beady eyes or Cardinale's luscious pout fill the entire screen. A commentary track is mostly by expert Sir Christopher Frayling, with input from other academics, participants and enthusiasts--it's good on the detail, and Alex Cox winningly points out that one scene bizarrely can't be reconciled with what happens before or after it.
Disc 2 has four featurettes which, taken together, add up to a feature-length documentary on the film, and though overlapping the commentary slightly offer a wealth of further good stuff, plus the elegant Cardinale's undiminished smile. Also included is the trailer, notes on the cast, menu screens with generous selections from Ennio Morricone's score, stills gallery, comparison shots from the film and contemporary snapshots of the locations. --Kim Newman
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The quality of the transfer is excellent, esp. considering Leone shot this on Techniscope 2 perf film..... a poor man's format.
However, some Menu functions on the Blu-ray are primitive or actually non-existent. Reverting to Menu midway through viewing is either not allowed, or the film reloads and returns to the opening screen. Equally, the disc cannot be stopped and then resumed from a previous stopped-off point. One has to start afresh, wait for the ram loading, and then look for the scene.....
Maybe the single disc is so full - two versions of the film (original theatrical release plus restored version), 10 languages, plus extras etc - that there is insufficient coding space for proper functionality....?
The std two-disc collector's edition operates perfectly and is only a shade less crisp with a tad less sound quality.
My favourite western and film of all time.
If you like spaghetti westerns you should like this I though the casting was spot on, great lines and music,
Of course not everyone will like it ,like most things Its down to choice,I can go on about it saying how great it is others will say its rubbish.
All that and Charles Bronson and Jason Robards too - wow!
After finishing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in 1966, Sergio Leone felt he had done all he wanted to do with the Western genre. Thankfully that wasn't to be the case as he was lured back into Oaterville to make the unique and quite superb C'era una volta il West in 1968. Greeted with negative reviews on its release in America, it was a financial flop. But in Europe the film was richly received and took the box offices by storm. Time has showed the film to have risen above cult status to be widely acknowledged as one of the finest Western film's of all time.
Everything about the film is bigger and bolder than previous Leone works. Opening with an almost silent ten minute sequence that has become legendary, the film follows four characters as they dovetail towards the reckoning. Harmonica (Bronson), Frank (Fonda), Jill McBain (Cardinale) & Cheyenne (Robards), all linked by death, and with each one represented in the narrative by a piece of music. Leone clinically weaves the four stories into one operatic whole. Not all of it makes perfect sense, which stops it being the masterpiece many consider it being. But its observations of Western mysticism, capitalism and progression of time; and with scores to of course be settled too, it makes for a fine story nestling in amongst the beautiful treats for the eyes and ears.
While Leone clearly homages the genre and pays tribute to the old America (you will lose count spotting the Western film steals), his film is ultimately very much a pastiche piece. But he gets away with that lack of freshness (the story at the core mirrors Johnny Guitar for example) due to the unique structure. It's meticulously paced as the characters are fleshed out to the max, sometimes even without dialogue. Smart directing as Leone makes the story more richer and weightier in substance. Morricone's score is magnificent and so is Colli's photography, with the latter's shooting of Monument Valley good enough to have featured in John Ford oeuvre. While the casting is inspiring, notably Fonda as a villain (the impact shocked many back in the day).
I can't call it a masterpiece because it does lift from many other sources, but it's darn close to being a perfect movie. One thing is for sure, that in its uncut form the film is a work of art. Where repeat viewings keep rewarding and never dilute the enjoyment. 9/10
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