Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "C'era una volta in America (Italy)" )

 

directed by Sergio Leone
Italy/USA 1984

 

Sergio Leone’s final film as a director and one he spent 17 years developing. Like the spaghetti westerns he was famous for, Once Upon A Time In America concerns itself with a mythic America as seen from the perspective of a foreigner who grew up experiencing the United States through its movies.

The movie follows the rise and fall of a band of Jewish gangsters from New York’s Lower East Side. The two older members of the gang, Noodles and Max, have a complex relationship as both best friends and rivals. The story takes place over five decades and unfolds nonlinearly though the use of jump cuts., flashback sequences and just enough unsolved mystery to suggest that much of it may be an opium dream. As much an operatic tale of lost love, betrayal and longing as a crime caper there is something about the way Leone put this one together that supersedes the limitations of the genre. One of Sergio Leone's best and a true masterpiece of cinema.

Considered too long and confusing by its US distributor when the movie was released in 1984, it was shortened to around two and a half hours and edited into chronological order. The results were disastrous. Fortunately, the original cut of Once Upon A Time In America played well in Europe and was released on VHS in a longer version closer to the director's intention where it found its audience. On DVD for the first time, this is a cut preferred by Sergio Leone.

Note: In addition to this and the short version there is an Italian television version that runs four hours, twenty five minutes and a rumored eight hour cut that was never released.

- Gregg Ferencz

Posters

Theatrical Release: February 17, 1984 (USA)

Reviews        More Reviews        DVD Reviews

Comparison: 

Warner Home Video (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Warner Home Video (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

      

      

 

Distribution

Warner Home Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Warner Home Video

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Runtime 3:49:01 3:49:19.829
Video

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.19 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,543,814,033 bytes

Feature: 44,662,333,440 bytes

Video Bitrate: 14.96 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Bitrate : Blu-ray

Audio English/French (Dolby Digital 5.1) DTS-HD Master Audio English 3410 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3410 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Czech 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio German 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Hungarian 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
* Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Polish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Subtitles English/French/Spanish/None English (SDH), Bulgarian, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by film critic Richard Schickel
• Excerpt from the documentary Once Upon a Time: Sergio Leone profiling the making of the film
• Photographic Memories
• Theatrical Trailer

DVD Release Date: June 10th, 2003
Gatefold

Chapters 59

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,543,814,033 bytes

Feature: 44,662,333,440 bytes

Video Bitrate: 14.96 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Commentary by film critic Richard Schickel
• Excerpt from the documentary Once Upon a Time: Sergio Leone profiling the making of the film (19:34)
• Theatrical Trailer (1:33)

Blu-ray Release Date: January 11th, 2011

Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 59

 

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Warner Region FREE Blu-ray January 11': My comments would mimic much of what Gregg stated about the DVD. The Blu-ray visuals are likewise imperfect. Surprisingly Warner are using the MPEG-4 encode (for only the second time that I recall) as opposed to their usual VC-1. It hasn't benefited extensively from the HD transfer - while it has fewer artefacts and is more film-like than the SD - the low bitrate (for the almost 4-hour film) still produces noise - more than we are used to with this format.  The image is richer but it is not a dramatic increase. The DVD had a green tinge (sometimes the sign of a failing telecine) to it that is removed on the 1080P transfer. This may very well be the apex of how Once Upon a Time in American can look on digital disc. It has some inconsistencies but nothing really detracted from the brilliance of the film. Also it is nice to have the whole thing on one, dual-layered, disc.

There is a decent DTS-HD Master 5.1 in original English at 3410 kbps. While not containing sharp separations it definitely has notable depth as compared to the DVD. This can be felt in the Ennio Morricone score as well as some of the aggressive effects (gunfire etc.) This is obviously the same edition being sold internationally as it has a host of DUBs and subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

Supplements duplicate the 2003 DVD package with the excellent Richard Schickel commentary and 20-minutes of Once Upon a Time: Sergio Leone documentary. We lose the 'Photographic Memories' but keep the trailer.

This is such an amazing film and one you really do want in the best a/v edition. Both colors and audio are enough of a boost to endorse - not to mention the entire film on one disc. I do suggest tempering your video expectations though - but the film is a must-see.

Gary Tooze

***

ON THE DVD: While not unpleasant to watch, the DVD suffers from inconsistency. The film print has scratches and nicks along with visible grain. The video transfer, while near superbit quality as far as compression goes, suffers from intermittent shimmering on horizontal camera moves. Flesh tones often appear reddish. In addition, in places the image is very sharp and elsewhere it appears too soft. The original 1:85:1 image has been cropped to a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.

The original mono soundtrack has been remixed for 5.1 Dolby surround. Perhaps, due to the way it was originally recorded there doesn't seem to be much benefit from this upgrade. The audio is clear enough but the center channel gets the biggest workout and the surround speakers and subwoofer only kick in during the music.

The nearly four hour movie is split over two dual-layer discs. The break occurs toward the end of a scene and picks up on the second disc. Presumably, this was done to split the time evenly between the discs and maintain a consistent compression level but it comes off as sloppy. There is an intermission but it occurs later in the film. The odd thing is that the DVD case lists the intermission as the disc break. Perhaps the choice of where to put the disc break was a last minute decision. While this is the best version of Once Upon A Time In America I have seen (Region 1) on video a movie this fine deserves better treatment. out of     

 - Gregg Ferencz

 

 



Menus

 

Warner Home Video (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

Warner Home Video (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM


Subtitle sample

 

 


Warner Home Video (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

Warner Home Video (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Warner Home Video (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


  Warner Home Video (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 


DVD Box Cover

      

      

 

Distribution

Warner Home Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Warner Home Video

Region FREE - Blu-ray




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!