Once Upon a Time in the West / C’era una volta il West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

I like it! :wink:

The ultra / ultimate tag we see on so much advertising and products is becoming a pain in the ass … Ultimate means ‘Last’ … the ‘Last’ time you will spend money on this film ! Not if the owners can repackage it every few years, and make you believe it’s something new that you must have.

It’s just business not personal … :thinking:

Yeah it is like the mouse DPI. Now 1000000 DPI. The best mouse ever. :smiley:

Well we can ridicule the marketing and criticize bad implementation, but in general terms, attempting to digitally preserve (and re-distribute) physical film in the highest possible resolution and color spectrum is something to be lauded, not discounted as an idea altogether. Who has these films in 35mm rolls and a projector and movie theater to go along with it? It may be imperfect but anything that gets a film fan closer to the experience of that projection is a good thing. And depending on whose calculations you trust, scanning negatives at 4K, 8K (Fincher’s recent Se7en restoration) or even higher resolutions is a first and necessary step for the digital processing that succeeds that step to be successful in the first place. We have seen this with the advent of DVDs, with later generation discs being far superior to the shoddy initial releases, and we’re seeing this in the BluRay world as well with more up to date 2K and 4K scans and more effort being put into accurate (wink) color grading and restoration resulting in far superior releases. I am not defending shoddy jobs, but it irks me if the entire idea of film preservation is being put down in its entirety, for whatever reasons (across the net it’s often ignorance of the technology). Paramount deserves to be scolded ridiculed and protested for what they’ve likely accomplished (or not) here. We need to continue to speak out, stay away from bad releases, and buy the good ones, to ensure that further restorations of the film history is successful.
Oh man listen to me wax about all this, haha. Anyways, just two weeks out this release. I will let you all know what I think about this in particular once I have the disc in possession. My testing setup will be a 65’’ screen (4K UHD OLED with Filmmaker mode) and a so-so Sony 4K BluRay player btw.
Over the years my patience with producers is wearing thinner and my verdict usually harsher, but I purposely kept the old BluRay of it to be able to do a more direct comparison (I also keep a second BluRay player so I can switch back and forth between input sources during playback).


Film has signature traits that create a kind of analog aura that makes movies of the pre-digital age feel more human. But we’ve come, sadly, to see those traits as flaws, which is why tech guys running roughshod over classics tends to elicit nary a whimper when it ought to summon up howls. To use 4K HDR to impose a radical makeover when it could instead be used to make the home viewing experience match what it was like to see the film as it was originally shown in theaters feels criminal.



Meanwhile it is confirmed that Paramount released again their usual faulty version, not even the obviously wrong closing music got fixed.

It seems they used too much DNR to get rid of the grain, and put the long film on a 2 layer disc instead of a possible 3 layer one.
Still it will look good, and some home disc experts are satisfied enough to recommend it.

I totally agree … films must be preserved - but I have bought copies of this film specifically in 4 different formats, that includes pan scan and widescreen VHS, DVD, BD … and yes folks, Super 8mm … so, personally I can’t get too excited by another release which may be a tiny fraction more detailed than what’s currently available.

What I mentioned earlier about the Techniscope widescreen system is relevant to what can be done with a restoration - This process is shot with 35mm film, but each frame used is half the height of regular cinematography, meaning you have potentially 50% less info to work with. The Techniscope negative is then blown up to regular 35mm anamorphic for cinema projection. That’s why you are never going to get an image quite as sharp or detailed as a scope movie in Panavision, which used the full height and width of the 35mm frame.

This will explain more clearly for those not familiar with this process.

Also, even though it takes hours, I do recommend reading some of the bluray.com forums and some other sources where this 4K is discussed. There seems to be some major disagreements as to what possible sources are for a softer image, from arguments over the technicolor “perfs”, to DNR to compression or what could be at fault here, all to some folks saying not it does look like it is supposed to and what we HD-era kids consider grain may be older HD scans on older BluRays (i.e. the fault is with older scanning tech etc) yada yada. Please everyone keep posting reviews, until we all have it in our hands to form our own opinion. I am pretty sure it will come down to taste to some extent, too…


I have no intention of buying this. Not because of its flaws and the bad press it gets from some. Not because I don’t like the film, I absolutely love it.

But my projector is 2k only, and I don’t even have a 4k player because of that. By the time that changes, who knows whether this current ultimate edition isn’t already the pre-penultimate edition? So I keep calm and wait for good first-time 2k releases of admittedly weaker films that are still waiting for the first proper step of their digital preservation. That’s where my money is going.


Yes, it’s only half the height, but for the usual 35 mm film with a 4 perf height the 2,35:1 image can only be done with anamorphic lenses, which are compressing the 2,35:1 image on a 1,37:1 image. That’s not half of the image, but it’s also an about 58 % compressing compared to 70 mm film.

There are other issues with Techniscope compared to the usual 35 mm film, but I leave that to the experts.
Robert Harris, one of those experts who works on film restoration, seems to see not that much problems with Techniscope pictures by asking in the Home Theatre Forum:
“Please explain the problem with Techniscope. I’ve never found one.”

The first video, the guy comes on so strong in favour, that he sounds like a hard sell 2nd hand car dealer.

The clip from ‘Cattle Corner’, in the next vid looks like the colour has been pumped up considerably and someone has gone in and freshly painted the letters on the water tower, which were barely noticeable before.

I think what you say, Sebastian, about personal taste is important … and as an ‘old timer’ I want this to look as close as possible to the cinema version I saw as a teenager … When the restored print was shown in 1983 or 84, it was the most incredible cinema experience I’d had … just breath taking beauty. However, about a year later the same cinema advertised another showing, but by accident the old 1969 release print showed up in very bad condition … lots of scrapes and broken splices that stopped the screening 4 or 5 times … it was the much shorter version, and what was strikingly ugly was how stark the contrast was in this print … As it was an original Technicolor print the colour was strong and vivid, but it all looked underexposed by several clicks … Was this a rogue print, or the way Paramount allowed this film to go out in the late 1960s … also, as has been written about extensively, it made very little sense, or at least was difficult to follow what was happening … a butchering job by the studio.

PS: One thing worth a mention which now seems almost unbelievable … Back in the early 1980s, before the release of ‘Once upon a time in America’, Sergio Leone didn’t have much or any credibility with the ‘Serious film scholars and critics’, and so when the newly restored version showed up, it was only screened for a one off show … that’s how snobbish the local art house cinema was … they assumed no one would be interested - This was all pre - Christopher Frayling and Quentin Tarantino champions of the Maestro … those negative opinions have now almost globally been ‘re-thought’, even by those who originally saw no value in his work.


I’ve cancelled my pre-order on this, think I’m gonna wait to pick it up in a sale down the line.

Looking through the blu-ray forums and seeing some of the comparisons with older releases, it seems they’ve gone a bit too heavy with the DNR sadly, to the point where some scenes have less detail than the old blu-ray. Some scenes do look improved but it’s a bit of a disappointing presentation. The colour grading does look lovely on this newer release though.

Not enough to fully put me off like I said, plus I don’t actually own this physically yet so not really much to lose there. Plus with the recent radiance announcements I need to save some money anyway :rofl:

There’ll be some edition without the postcards and all these shenanigans so that might be an option to spot it on sale somewhere

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Yeah that’s what I’ll probably go for. Won’t be bothered too much by the quality of the video if I can get it for less than 20 quid :grin:

Frayling’s book was published in '81, so critical acclaim was just on the rise. I too was stunned by a re-release screened at the Gate Notting Hill, in '82, I think. And like you, I have the Super 8 version. :laughing:

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Haha saw this elsewhere


Oh that it were that simple a fix … Wonder if those are the ‘Ultimate’ edition’, or will they be upgraded at regular intervals too ?


This is one of the masterpieciest masterpieces that ever masterpieced. Source

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This is my favourite film but I still only have it on DVD and VHS. Never bothered to upgrade to Blu-ray, so I won’t be getting the new release unless it’s a significant improvement. I’ve been holding out for a criterion release.

well if you’re coming from DVD, it is definitely a siginificant improvement if there ever was one :slight_smile:

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