While we’ve known for a while that a restored, extended cut of Sergio Leone‘s nostalgic gangster reverie Once Upon A Time In America was coming, we didn’t know when – and we certainly didn’t know how long it was going to be.
The answers are “soon” and “very long indeed.”
According to a Variety story, this extended version adds some 40 minutes to the runtime, bringing us to a total of 269 minutes, and it will premiere at Cannes.
One minute more and it would run for four and a half hours. That’s worth at least one intermission, I think.
This longer version has been built to match Leone’s original version of the film, an edit that he cut down himself before the film’s premiere at, of course, Cannes again, back in ’84. What I’m not clear on is which version was Leone’s preferred version. Of course, this being a reconstitution, it’s also only an approximation of what Leone had created in the first place.
Even if the shorter edit is the “director’s cut” that doesn’t mean this extended version is entirely with out merit, of course. It won’t be necessarily “definitive”, but seeing the formerly missing footage will be interesting, and seeing it cut back-in will provided useful context. And it might even be a better film this way.
I’m sure a DVD and Blu-ray release will follow in due course. Some theatrical screenings would certainly be nice too.