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Once Upon a Time in America (Version française)

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Product Details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Studio: Warner
  • Release Date: June 10 2003
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B000194UDS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #190,766 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

This movie has a checkered history, having been chopped from its original 227-minute director's cut to 139 minutes for its U.S. release. This longer edition benefits from having the complete story (the short version has huge gaps) about turn-of-the-century Jewish immigrants in America finding their way into lives of crime, as told in flashback by an aging Jewish gangster named Noodles (Robert De Niro). On the other hand, it's almost four hours long, and this sometimes-indulgent Sergio Leone film is no Godfather. Still, it is notable for the contrast between Leone's elegiac take on the gangster film and his occasional explosive action, as well as for the mix of the stoic, inexpressive De Niro and the hyperactive James Woods as his lifelong friend and rival. --Marshall Fine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Special Features

At 229 minutes, this is the longest cut seen on video, and the version seen at Cannes and in the rest of Europe. It's only two minutes longer than the version available for a long time on VHS, adding (mostly) more gruesome shots of violence in four different scenes. The sound and image have been remastered, making for a pristine presentation. Time film critic Richard Schickel does a commendable job in his feature-length commentary. Although he doesn't know all the insider stuff, he has ample knowledge and affection for Sergio Leone, and will help the interested viewer reexamine the film from a few different viewpoints. The only other extras are nearly 100 production photos and a 20-minute excerpt from a documentary on Leone, Once Upon a Time, which leads to one puzzler: why isn't the whole documentary on the disc? --Doug Thomas --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 928 reviews
379 of 401 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificant opium dream of a gangster epic May 21 2003
By Craig Bleakley - Published on
Format: DVD
Okay, a four hour gangster movie is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, especially when the pacing is absolutely glacial and DeNiro and Woods aren't on-screen for about half that time because of a childhood flashback that's longer than some full movies. But, if you take this movie on the terms director Sergio Leone sets, it's a richly rewarding cinemeatic experience. I've heard the film described as "an opium dream of a gangster movie" and the pacing seems to justify such a response. But it's slow and richly detailed, and a little odd at times, for very good reasons that pay off in spades by the film's emotionally titanic (though slightly anti-climactic} finale.
Despite what can seem like turgidness on first viewing, this film is likely to stick to your ribs and merit repeat screenings. DeNiro smolders throughout, while James Woods delivers a teriffic scenery-chewing performance. The story is friendship (and betrayal, of course)--or is it Romulus and Remus? Greek tragedy, perhaps? Godfather parts 1 and 2 rolled into one film? Yes, and more. And viewers familliar with Leone only through his spagetti westerns are in for a surprise: Leone is a world-class film-maker here, capable of stunning beauty and cruelty, often within the same frame.
Does it really need to be this slow? Does the flashback to childhood need to be almost and hour and a half long (don't worry--it's absorbing enough in its own right to keep you from noticing)? Does the the chronology need to be so screwy? Does that darn phone need to ring so long? Absolutely.

Fans of Woods, DeNiro, Leone, or gangster movies in general canot afford to pass this film up. The supporting cast, especially the young actors playing the gang members in thier childhood, is also consistently stellar. Best viewed on a cold wintry afternoon when you've got plenty of time. Opium not provided.
171 of 183 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant May 3 2000
By Boyd Baker - Published on
When "Once Upon A Time in America" was initially released, there wasn't much of a stir in America due to the well-documented excision of around an hour and half of footage. But, on its release to home video, the restored, uncut version was suddenly available to American viewers. Thank God. This is a deeply moving, emotionally-wrenching film that deserves its ranks in the annals of some of the greatest motion pictures ever filmed. Movie lovers will delight in this film from frame to frame. Top-notch performances, extended sequences with attention to detail that rival the best Kubrick films, and plot twists told through inventive flashback sequences make this a movie-lovers paradise.
I remember when it first came out, I was mesmerized by it for three reasons. Firstly, when it was released there was possibly never a more violent film than this one, with the possible exception of Scarface. Thus, the action is first-rate. Secondly, the performances were all compelling. One performance that went overlooked, I think, was Tuesday Weld's volatile performance as the damaged and emotionally scarred girlfriend of the equally volatile Woods. DeNiro, of course, holds every scene he's in; there's a great sequence in the film involving crooked cop Danny Aiello and a sick practical joke played on him by the gangsters seeking to influence him; additionally, a young Jennifer Connelly gives a fine performance as the childhood sweetheart of one of the gang-members. Thirdly, the pacing of the film was deliberately extended in several sequences to allow for Ennio Morricone's haunting, melancholic, and most deeply felt musical score. When Morricone's music swells, so collectively do we, and the play on the screen becomes the ultimate tragedy that can never have a happy ending.
Some of the visuals of the film are especially striking, not the least of which is the aerial shot of DeNiro lying under a mesh cover on a mattress in an opium den, grinning goofily while he allows the opium to take its effect, and wipe away the memories of his betrayal. Other standout visuals include the shot of a frisbee flying through the air to introduce yet another flashback sequence, the opening sequences of horrifying violence, and a final sequence involving a garbage truck.
All of this together creates an unforgettable movie experience, one that will stay with the viewer for a long time.
272 of 303 people found the following review helpful
By Nix Pix - Published on
Format: DVD
"Once Upon A Time In America" is director, Sergio Leone's stunning tale of organized crime and the destruction it unleashes into the lives of four life-long friends. Robert DeNiro headlines a cast of great talent that includes Joe Pesci, Treat Williams and James Woods. When this film first premiered in 1984 it was 229 minutes. However, the subject matter was considered so violent and shocking, and the pace so methodically slow that nearly 40 minutes were excised for general exhibition, rendering the story line practically incomprehensible. I am pleased to say that this new 2-disc set at last gives us the story as it was originally intended, full of robust characterizations, enthralling action sequences and filled with the sort of memorable moments that have reminded me why we all go to the movies - to be entertained (not overwhelmed with way-too-many, ultra-slick digital effects!).
Warner Brothers 2 disc set does have its drawbacks. First, the movie itself is spread over two discs and, there is no polite way to say it, the interruption is obtrusive. The break happens right in the middle of a crucial scene. Interruption aside, the DVD is marred by considerable film grain and a bit of digital grit that make most of the images digitally harsh instead of creamy smooth. Many scenes offer remarkable clarity and depth while others, mostly night time or dark scenes suffer from a loss of fine detail that disappears into a haze of undistinguished muddy blacks, browns and blues. Edge enhancement, pixelization, shimmering and aliasing are present throughout the transfer, sometimes distractingly so. The audio is remixed 5.1 and is strident and lacking in tonal bass.
Extras: Pretty much a retrospective and audio commentaries. Some toss away stuff. That's it, that's all!
BOTTOM LINE: For its sheer mastery in the art of cinema story telling, I recommend "Once Upon A Time In America". The transfer leaves something to be desired but hey, it's nice to have this American classic back in the spotlight and, finally, in its full running time.
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite Possibly The Greatest Film Ever Made March 9 2002
By Giuseppe Randazzo - Published on
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Now, I am by no means a Sergio Leone fan, but he deserved the Oscar for Direction for this film. I firmly believe that this film stands up there with "The Godfather, Part II", "Casablanca", and "Citizen Kane" as one of the greatest films ever released (maybe the best). Sergio Leone's violent, visual, masterpiece of turn of the century Jewish boys from New York growing into a life of crime has a different effect on all those who have viewed it in its various forms. I, personally have never seen the shortened version so I can not comment on it. There isn't anything in this film that isn't worth the four hour running time. Brilliant, poetic visuals, great photography and fantastic performances across the board.
Leone touches on issues of violence (the scenes are gory and sometimes explicit), sexual depravity (its no coincidence that all sexual encounters are in unconventional places and only in Noodles' rape of Deborah does he exhibit any kind of emotion toward any of his partners, gently caressing and kissing her as he violates her in a pathetic attempt to show his love), and simply growing old (brought about by the reminisces of Noodles' childhood with a beautiful good 'ol days type feeling despite the criminal nature of his childhood) and leaves us clamoring for more after the four hours are through.
Robert DeNiro is fantastic as always as Noodles. But it is James Woods, in my opinion that steals the show as Max. William Forsythe, Treat Williams, Danny Aiello, Burt Young, Joe Pesci, Jennifer Connely and Tuesday Weld add to this film just as actors of their quality are expected to. Their performances, as well as the two leads at the very least deserved, but didn't recieve any, Academy Award nominations. (In fact, the Oscars were the only ceremony to snub this film). Ennio Morricone's score was as beautiful and evocative as one would expect from the master of the Italian score.
Worth seeing. Sit back, take the phone off the hook and prepare for a cinematic experience.
50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is permenantly etched in my memory April 9 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
I've just finished watching Sergio Lione's beautiful, long, violent masterpiece. I've mentioned long , as unlike many others I feel it is one the movie's best qualities. For the 1 1/2 hour flashback, is so poetically realised you can almost smell New York, and by the time the movie is over you truly feel that you have lived their lives. As the movie opens the phone is ringing, and its only after repeated viewings do you realise this symbolic of De Niro(noodles)'s guilt for turning his friend in , and as he belives cuasing his death. It this level of detail in every frame, and the contrast of Ennio Morricon's second best score( after The Mission) with the violence, that make this film experience truly special. Watch it alone, watch it repeatedly, and please stay away from the crime against cinema that is the shortened version. Note:I truly think had this film been released in its full length in the U.S. , it would have beat Ghandi to best picture, and given Mr.Lione a very deserved oscar, but the incoherent shortend version obviously didn't even get nominated.