First announced last spring, Bologna Cinemetheque L'Immagine Ritrovata, Martin Scorsese's The Film Foundation and uh, Gucci, have teamed to digitally restore Sergio Leone's "Once Upon A Time In America," adding 40 minutes of footage to the already sprawling 229 minute runtime. This brings the film back to the original 269-minute run time Leone first crafted, before it was cut down for the Cannes premiere in 1984. The director's original vision was to release the movie -- based on Harry Grey's novel -- as two separate three-hour movies. And while that didn't come to pass, Leone's 4-hour version never really got its due, having been cut and snipped to various degrees almost from the start. It first arrived in theaters stateside in a butchered 134-minute version that was taken out of Leone's hands and put the film's time-jumping, three-decade-spanning narrative in chronological order. A three-hour TV version showed up in the mid-90s and finally, there is the 229-minute version that is widely available today.
In case you haven't seen the film, it stars Robert De Niro and James Woods and a massive ensemble and tells the tale of a Prohibition-era gangster who returns to his old neighborhood three decades later. But of course, that just skims the surface; it's a film that definitely needs space to breathe and unfold, and we're glad it's finally getting the cut it deserves.
No word yet on when this version will hit DVD or BluRay but we presume that's around the corner. "Once Upon A Time In America" will screen at Cannes on May 18th.