For its 30th anniversary, “Once Upon a Time in America,” legendary director Sergio Leone’s final film, is being released on Blu-Ray this September. If you’re a fan of the gangster epic, your first question might be–which version?
The film has had a bit of a tortured history in the U.S. After a Cannes premiere in 1984, Leone’s more than four-hour cut came to the states in a drastically edited 134-minute version that told the story in chronological order–of which Leone did not approve. In the 1990s, a three-hour version could be found on TV and a 229-minute edit made the rounds on home video. Then, in 2012, a restored cut played at Cannes but was held from wider distribution to allow for more restoration work.
Now, finally, “Once Upon a Time in America” is available with its full director’s cut–in fact, the Blu-Ray edition includes 22-minutes of extra footage, bringing the film to a total time of 251 minutes. The restoration was overseen by Fausto Ancillai, the film’s original sound editor.
Leone’s film follow Robert De Niro as David “Nodles” Aaronson, a Jewish New York gangster, from his 1920s childhood on the Lower East Side through his violent days in the 1930s to his return to New York in 1968 after a self-imposed exile.
The collector’s edition–due out September 30–will also include a 32-page book, complete with contemporary photographs, chronicling the making of the film, and a letter from Martin Scorsese, as well as commentary from film historian Richard Schickel.