-

Jump to content



Photo
* * * * * 1 votes

A LITTLE LOOK AT ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - THE RESTORATION ON BLU-RAY


  • Please log in to reply
84 replies to this topic

#1 of 85 haineshisway

haineshisway

    Screenwriter

  • 2,151 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 26 2011
  • Real Name:Bruce
  • LocationLos Angeles

Posted December 21 2012 - 05:29 PM

This quietly snuck out from Warners in Italy. The film is on one disc and people were already complaining about screen caps on one of the usual silly forums. It's always best to see the disc in motion, of course. And there's no reason a fine Blu-ray can't come for a four hour plus film on a BD 50 if there are no extras at all on the disc, which there aren't. But these people see bad compression from still frames. I don't. In any case, the disc came today. So, now I have seen the first forty-five minutes and I can speak having now actually seen the thing. And I'm here to tell you, compression is the least of it - spreading this transfer over five discs would not help it. Why? Because it is a complete botch job of the film called Once Upon a Time in America. Mr. Leone and Mr. Delli Colli would be fuming if they saw what their beautiful film has been turned into. I saw this film seven times in its short version and about seventeen times in its long version, and owned a beautiful LPP 35mm print of it. The photography is stunning. You would not know that from this new restoration. I have no idea what the new prints or DCP look like, I can only go by what's on this Blu-ray and it looks like crap. There is no contrast - just milk. The detail is blah. Worst of all (but I know it won't be bothersome to most because color problems rarely are) - the color. Awful. What a joke. Want to see the correct color and contrast, just pop in the old Warner Blu-ray and you'll see it perfectly because that's exactly what the prints looked like in terms of color and contrast (that original Blu-ray may not be perfect but side by side to this new one, it's better in every way). I find it hard to believe I'm saying this, but there is far more detail in the Warners Blu-ray than this sorry mess. You see it right from the first shot and it gets worse as you go. When it goes to Fat Moe being beaten to a pulp his blood is - brown/orange. Not vivid red - brown/orange. His hair, which is red - is brown. Then you go to the Chinese theater and gone are all the shadings and the beautiful reds and golds, rendered here lifeless and blah. Then you get to the scene in the rain where Noodles' buddies have been shot down. There's a fire truck. Brown/orange. Fire trucks are not brown/orange. Then you to to the scene in the station and see that beautiful, stunning Coney Island mural - hard to make that blah, and yet... Then Noodles comes back older and the mural is now the big apple of the Big Apple. What color is an apple? Well, in this instance it should be bright red - it's brown/orange and hardly bright. And so it goes. There are no blacks in this transfer - just milk. I put them side by side and there's no question that even if you don't like the bitrate of the original Blu-ray, if you want a Once Upon a Time in America that actually looks as it should, that's the only choice right now. I fear for watching the rest of this thing, but since none of the additional footage has appeared yet, I'll mush on just to see how all that works. A complete failure.

#2 of 85 HDvision

HDvision

    Supporting Actor

  • 958 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 11 2007
  • Real Name:David
  • LocationPandora

Posted December 21 2012 - 09:31 PM

Thanks. It looks the new Blu is bad, but re the colors, I must disagree. The old disc presents the film in a naturalistic HD timed transfer, and Leone films never were supposed to look natural. They all have a dreamy quality to them. I hate the old disc and can't watch it the way it's color timed. I'm looking forward for the new disc even if the compression is awful, the general color timing looks more spots on with how a Leone film would look like. Not saying it's the way it was. Just saying it looks more like the idea I have of the movie (ie a period piece).



#3 of 85 haineshisway

haineshisway

    Screenwriter

  • 2,151 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 26 2011
  • Real Name:Bruce
  • LocationLos Angeles

Posted December 22 2012 - 08:20 AM

Thanks. It looks the new Blu is bad, but re the colors, I must disagree. The old disc presents the film in a naturalistic HD timed transfer, and Leone films never were supposed to look natural. They all have a dreamy quality to them. I hate the old disc and can't watch it the way it's color timed. I'm looking forward for the new disc even if the compression is awful, the general color timing looks more spots on with how a Leone film would look like. Not saying it's the way it was. Just saying it looks more like the idea I have of the movie (ie a period piece).

I'd just have to ask the question if you've seen any of Leone's movies projected from 35mm prints. They really are all of a piece. And you can't look at Once Upon a Time in the West or A Fistful of Dollars or The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, all period pieces, and tell me they have drab color - they don't. The older Blu-ray presented the film the way the release prints looked - you'll have to trust me on this, and the washed out colors of the new transfer, while maybe conforming to whatever your idea of how the film should look, is simply not how it looked originally.

#4 of 85 haineshisway

haineshisway

    Screenwriter

  • 2,151 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 26 2011
  • Real Name:Bruce
  • LocationLos Angeles

Posted December 22 2012 - 02:42 PM

Having now seen the first half, with some of the new footage, it's my opinion that they drained the color to try and get the awful new footage to even be in the ballpark of the original. It makes perfect sense, because if the film had its original color timing the new footage would look even more horrid than it does now and it looks totally horrid. It looks like a fifth generation dupe of a dupe - I think they said this is all from the camera negative, but no camera negative could produce an image like this. Whatever the good intentions of the Leone family, I don't think Papa Leone would be so happy to know that this is how his film now looks. I'm told they've now withdrawn the restoration to do further work. My feeling is they should leave it as Mr. Leone cut it and not insert all this footage back in - maybe for some mini-series he had in the back of his head years later, rather like the very long Godfather put-together, maybe putting back the footage for that kind of thing would have been fine. But he cut his film as he saw fit for a theatrical release. There are not many films you can name that put every shot filmed into its final cut. That's not how it works - in editing, the editor and director "find" their film and discard what isn't working for them. Just because footage exists doesn't mean it's meant for us to see, other than in some special features section where it belongs.

#5 of 85 Robert Harris

Robert Harris

    Archivist

  • 7,442 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 08 1999
  • Real Name:Robert Harris

Posted December 22 2012 - 03:01 PM

Originally Posted by haineshisway 

Having now seen the first half, with some of the new footage, it's my opinion that they drained the color to try and get the awful new footage to even be in the ballpark of the original. It makes perfect sense, because if the film had its original color timing the new footage would look even more horrid than it does now and it looks totally horrid. It looks like a fifth generation dupe of a dupe - I think they said this is all from the camera negative, but no camera negative could produce an image like this. Whatever the good intentions of the Leone family, I don't think Papa Leone would be so happy to know that this is how his film now looks. I'm told they've now withdrawn the restoration to do further work. My feeling is they should leave it as Mr. Leone cut it and not insert all this footage back in - maybe for some mini-series he had in the back of his head years later, rather like the very long Godfather put-together, maybe putting back the footage for that kind of thing would have been fine. But he cut his film as he saw fit for a theatrical release. There are not many films you can name that put every shot filmed into its final cut. That's not how it works - in editing, the editor and director "find" their film and discard what isn't working for them. Just because footage exists doesn't mean it's meant for us to see, other than in some special features section where it belongs.


Unless the reinstated footage was taken from a dupe of a dupe, there is no reason for color fade.


Something seems rotten in Italy.


RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#6 of 85 haineshisway

haineshisway

    Screenwriter

  • 2,151 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 26 2011
  • Real Name:Bruce
  • LocationLos Angeles

Posted December 22 2012 - 05:58 PM

Unless the reinstated footage was taken from a dupe of a dupe, there is no reason for color fade. Something seems rotten in Italy. RAH

Most definitely. Now that I've finished, I don't think there's one of the twenty minutes' worth of stuff that makes a bit of difference, really. It does make it longer, and you do get a little explanation of something here and there, but Leone's long cut worked wonderfully. But the drained color is very irritating, as is the milky contrast - and the quality - well, quality is a misnomer - of the new footage looks like a dupe of a dupe put onto VHS, then stuck on this Blu-ray. The original Warners Blu is interesting: The first half looks pretty okay, and it does have the right color timing - but the second half has very little detail - it just suddenly goes away. I wish Warners would just do a fresh transfer off their element and bring it up to current standards - I'm sure it would look wonderful. But if they continue with the restoration, I would hope someone would intervene and get them to make the color right again and remove the additional scenes or put them on there as branching. And they shouldn't even include them as extras unless they can go from the camera negative and make them look of a piece with the film.

#7 of 85 Ignatius

Ignatius

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 59 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 25 2012
  • Real Name:Hayden Frost
  • LocationAuckland, New Zealand

Posted December 22 2012 - 08:07 PM

Strangely enough, Once Upon a Time in America has always felt a bit too short to me, so I was quietly hopeful about the new restoration. That whoever is in charge should see fit to mangle Tonino Delli Colli's marvelous cinematography to better accommodate poor dupe footage is disgraceful. I'd still dearly love to see the extra footage as a bonus feature, even in very poor quality, but unless they can get it perfect there's no way it should be incorporated into the body of the film. I only hope that the terrible dupe used in this resto isn't the only form in which the extra material exists, and they decided to try and make it work regardless.

#8 of 85 HDvision

HDvision

    Supporting Actor

  • 958 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 11 2007
  • Real Name:David
  • LocationPandora

Posted December 22 2012 - 08:38 PM

Yes I've seen em all several times on the big screen in my youth. Not saying the new one is good, but the old Blu make the movie look like a HBO movie of the week. It's totally not what the film should look like. Basically, with the old disc in general release, the footage looks like something shot in the 80's with actors wearing costumes, like a making of would. It should look totally organic like it's a window to another world, without any hint you are watching people disguised.


Of course the Dollars etc. did not have drab colors, I'm just saying the original presentation is a miss too, in different kind of ways. Leone seems to get a hard deal on Blu, for the $ trilogy, the italian discs are way superior thought they lack english subs and dubs. Once Upon A Time in the West is not either the original US cut or the original European cut (Harmonica should NOT wake up on the platform in the longer cut, he never did except in the US cut and that was because a later scene (which is now back in) was missing etc.


For this one, I would snag it just to see it before it's gone.



#9 of 85 Guest__*

Guest__*
  • Join Date: --

Posted December 23 2012 - 08:37 AM

I saw the film when I was fifteen on video and wept like a baby. I watched it so many time through out my teens, the one-sheet pinned to the inside door of my first flat. In 1990 I managed to finally see it on 35mm here in Dublin. That was the last time for Noodles and me. When I heard about the 'restoration' I held off on the Bluray. I'm very surprised it has come out already in Italy as I understood the 'restoration' was ongoing following the screening at Cannes this year, when it was decided to hold back on the planned European re-release the following autumn to try to incorporate the new scenes better into the final print. There remains a lot of issues with this as the negatives are long since lost. Anyway, here's a link to a fascinating article on the story of the longer cut. It seems not all the possible footage is being added back in going by the running times mentioned: http://notesofafilmfanatic.com/?p=911 Plus, last word in August on the restoration's current status: http://www.guardian....a?newsfeed=true

#10 of 85 haineshisway

haineshisway

    Screenwriter

  • 2,151 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 26 2011
  • Real Name:Bruce
  • LocationLos Angeles

Posted December 23 2012 - 09:27 AM

Yes I've seen em all several times on the big screen in my youth. Not saying the new one is good, but the old Blu make the movie look like a HBO movie of the week. It's totally not what the film should look like. Basically, with the old disc in general release, the footage looks like something shot in the 80's with actors wearing costumes, like a making of would. It should look totally organic like it's a window to another world, without any hint you are watching people disguised. Of course the Dollars etc. did not have drab colors, I'm just saying the original presentation is a miss too, in different kind of ways. Leone seems to get a hard deal on Blu, for the $ trilogy, the italian discs are way superior thought they lack english subs and dubs. Once Upon A Time in the West is not either the original US cut or the original European cut (Harmonica should NOT wake up on the platform in the longer cut, he never did except in the US cut and that was because a later scene (which is now back in) was missing etc. For this one, I would snag it just to see it before it's gone.

But, as I've told you, it's what the film has always looked like. You are very wrong on this, and you are just making suppositions based on what you think it should be. It never looked like you are saying, nor does it look like an HBO movie in any way, shape, or form. It actually looks like something shot NOW - with all the color drained. If you saw a release print it would match the previous Blu-ray's color scheme. What would you say then? I know this film and its look like the back of my hand and this new version is so drab and ugly it is just a travesty of the director and cameraman's original intention. The previous Blu-ray has other problems, but the color isn't one of them. This film was never a sepia, milky, drab mess.

#11 of 85 HDvision

HDvision

    Supporting Actor

  • 958 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 11 2007
  • Real Name:David
  • LocationPandora

Posted December 23 2012 - 09:12 PM

I have to disagree with that assessment. It can't be how the film always looked like because it's an early HD 2000 transfer, with all the limitations and techincal hiccups the machines had back then. Particulary the reds aren't coming off right (they look tacked upon the image as an afterthought), there's a sort of murkiness to it all, and sort of feeling of watching something digitaly shot, not on film. Like many early HD transfers, It's a master made for the film to look OK on DVD, not Blu-ray.


Look at the original VHS trailer, it may be low res, but it still looks more captivating and film than the Blu-ray does, and it doesn't feature that obvious "natural" look, that many early HD color timers went for because that's how they thought the images looked good and different. In fact the general scheme looks closer to the new disc (thought I'm not saying the new disc might be good, just looking more like film). This VHS trailer as a general brown tone, while the new restoration is brown / yellow. It may still be a mess, but at least it's not "natural" looking.


http://www.videodete...in-america/1116


I did a few supervisions of transfers and colors timing back in the early days of High Def. I did find the color timers did at least two of three films at the same time, and always went for the "natural" look over the stylised movie look, with all the problems it can bring. I would have them redo everything from the first shot. The way they went wrong is they went for natural fleshtones from the beginning for EVERY movie. There was some general consensus that if you get the fleshtones right, the rest will be right. It may work on some french films, but on highly stylised films like Leone movies, it's all wrong.

I haven't seen yet the longer version, but it doesn't totally look color drained to me, more like there is a general yellow shift on all the scenes. It's a fail too, but at last it looks closer to film, thought badly deteriorated film. I think of it as watching a bootleg version of the longer cut. The bad quality doesn't matter, as long as we get more ;)



#12 of 85 RobHam

RobHam

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 126 posts
  • Join Date: May 25 2012
  • LocationUK

Posted December 24 2012 - 03:08 AM

I'm happy enough with the BD transfer from a couple of years ago as it was the right side of acceptable without being a standout (getting it all on one disc at last helped) . The movie itself is one that I tend to watch every few years with mixed feelings - in particular the Elizabeth McGovern rape sequence leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth and creates an ambivalence for the fate of the Robert De Niro character. Leone movies are notorious for non-improvement tinkering - TGTBATU included scenes whiich only added length, but in Fistful of Dynamite (Duck, You Sucker), the "original" ending was given a new twist that (to me) didnt make any sense. Similarly the restored ending in Once Upon a Time in America added confusion to everything that had gone before. Bruce - if you've now seen all of this new restored version, I'd be interested in your opinion as to what the new footage does to the balance of the film - does it change/improve the character arcs and the ending or does it simply add length to an already lengthy movie?

#13 of 85 haineshisway

haineshisway

    Screenwriter

  • 2,151 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 26 2011
  • Real Name:Bruce
  • LocationLos Angeles

Posted December 24 2012 - 05:41 AM

I have to disagree with that assessment. It can't be how the film always looked like because it's an early HD 2000 transfer, with all the limitations and techincal hiccups the machines had back then. Particulary the reds aren't coming off right (they look tacked upon the image as an afterthought), there's a sort of murkiness to it all, and sort of feeling of watching something digitaly shot, not on film. Like many early HD transfers, It's a master made for the film to look OK on DVD, not Blu-ray. Look at the original VHS trailer, it may be low res, but it still looks more captivating and film than the Blu-ray does, and it doesn't feature that obvious "natural" look, that many early HD color timers went for because that's how they thought the images looked good and different. In fact the general scheme looks closer to the new disc (thought I'm not saying the new disc might be good, just looking more like film). This VHS trailer as a general brown tone, while the new restoration is brown / yellow. It may still be a mess, but at least it's not "natural" looking. http://www.videodete...in-america/1116 I did a few supervisions of transfers and colors timing back in the early days of High Def. I did find the color timers did at least two of three films at the same time, and always went for the "natural" look over the stylised movie look, with all the problems it can bring. I would have them redo everything from the first shot. The way they went wrong is they went for natural fleshtones from the beginning for EVERY movie. There was some general consensus that if you get the fleshtones right, the rest will be right. It may work on some french films, but on highly stylised films like Leone movies, it's all wrong.  I haven't seen yet the longer version, but it doesn't totally look color drained to me, more like there is a general yellow shift on all the scenes. It's a fail too, but at last it looks closer to film, thought badly deteriorated film. I think of it as watching a bootleg version of the longer cut. The bad quality doesn't matter, as long as we get more ;)

I've tried to be be clear, but want to clarify one more time based on your first sentence: I understand the age of the transfer and have said it's not optimal. What's correct in the transfer is the color, and I don't need to look at a VHS (!) tape of the trailer to know that - I owned and ran many times a 35mm release print - that's first-hand information and its look, color-wise, was very close to what is on the older Blu-ray. You can't really argue with that, especially asking people to look at a VHS trailer. The reds were very vivid theatrically - especially the blood and the fire trucks.

#14 of 85 haineshisway

haineshisway

    Screenwriter

  • 2,151 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 26 2011
  • Real Name:Bruce
  • LocationLos Angeles

Posted December 24 2012 - 05:45 AM

I'm happy enough with the BD transfer from a couple of years ago as it was the right side of acceptable without being a standout (getting it all on one disc at last helped) . The movie itself is one that I tend to watch every few years with mixed feelings - in particular the Elizabeth McGovern rape sequence leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth and creates an ambivalence for the fate of the Robert De Niro character. Leone movies are notorious for non-improvement tinkering - TGTBATU included scenes whiich only added length, but in Fistful of Dynamite (Duck, You Sucker), the "original" ending was given a new twist that (to me) didnt make any sense. Similarly the restored ending in Once Upon a Time in America added confusion to everything that had gone before. Bruce - if you've now seen all of this new restored version, I'd be interested in your opinion as to what the new footage does to the balance of the film - does it change/improve the character arcs and the ending or does it simply add length to an already lengthy movie?

For me, it really didn't add anything - the best of the scenes are the meeting of Eve - it's not great, but it introduces her character. It also robs the film of the poignancy of going directly to the train station, which is why I'm sure Leone took it out. The scene with Treat Williams at the end adds some information but nothing you truly need and that isn't explained in the scene following with De Niro and by that point in the film you really need to get to the De Niro scene, which I'm also sure Leone figured out in editing. And each and every one of these insertions is so jarring because of the footage that rather than add anything they completely take you out of the storytelling. The worst of the scenes is the Louise Fletcher scene - both actors appear to be improvising and it's not good.

#15 of 85 Peter Neski

Peter Neski

    Supporting Actor

  • 887 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 14 2005

Posted December 24 2012 - 07:49 AM

This Film should look fantastic on Blu -Ray ,I saw it a couple years ago at MOMA and the print was outstanding ,But when they jumped the gun with a special screening of the new version the film beautiful blacks were gone,and the extras scene weren't even there,because they were removed for more fixing,

#16 of 85 philip*eric

philip*eric

    Agent

  • 42 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 15 2008

Posted December 24 2012 - 05:32 PM

This film is part of the Robert DeNiro collection released in the UK recently - I have no idea but assume this transfer is not new . Two reviewers rated it highly - one said "sound and picture fantastic" - I just got it so have had no time to watch it. BTW the other 3 movies are THE MISSION, HEAT & GOODFELLAS . All come with extras. It is also region free.

#17 of 85 Robert Harris

Robert Harris

    Archivist

  • 7,442 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 08 1999
  • Real Name:Robert Harris

Posted December 25 2012 - 01:02 AM

I fear that this thread, which was started, very specifically toward commenting on the newest reconstruction / restoration? of the film, has turned into something akin to Amazon reviews, in which all comments are co-mingled.


The actual subject of the thread, being the new 244 minute version, which seems to be have been unanimously panned at Amazon Italy for quality.  This, opposed to the recent 229 minute WB domestic version, released in 2011.


RAH


  • davidHartzog likes this

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#18 of 85 Peter Neski

Peter Neski

    Supporting Actor

  • 887 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 14 2005

Posted December 25 2012 - 05:05 AM

I might have been wishful thinking,but I thought the last BR wasn't great and now they would get it right with this new version,but with all the reports of the Warners new Italian BR it isn't the case,

#19 of 85 philip*eric

philip*eric

    Agent

  • 42 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 15 2008

Posted December 25 2012 - 12:28 PM

I didnt see the running time of the new Italian BR mentioned before . I thought info on the UK box set was useful but apparently not.

#20 of 85 chris1234

chris1234

    Auditioning

  • 5 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 25 2012

Posted December 26 2012 - 12:07 AM

The packaging of the new Blu-ray says the running time is about 246 minutes with 26 minutes of previously unreleased scenes. The running time is actually about 251 minutes with less than 21 minutes of additional scenes. A good review which describes the contents is at: http://www.movie-cen...t.php?ID=898776 It looks like the new BD is Region B locked and won't play in Region A players. Regarding picture quality, I think it depends what your expectations are, how critical an eye you have and what TV you are going to watch it on. The new scenes look exactly the same as the videos on YouTube and other sites. The other scenes look a bit yellowish to me. In some of the dark scenes the brightness has been turned up but this doesn't help since there's no meaningful detail in the shadows. There's sometimes a lack of contrast, poor blacks and if you pause the movie artifacts and extraneous items are clearly visible. It looks grainy on some LCD TVs but may look slightly better on Plasmas and LED TVs. The Guardian reported that the film had been withdrawn from circulation pending restoration work but this wasn't confirmed by anyone at Andrea Leone Films so it may just be speculation. There may be copyright issues with the new scenes. Some viewers are blaming the bad picture quality of the not new scenes on compressing a 251 minute movie onto one disc and Andrea Leone Films have noted the complaints and said they will try to fix it in future releases. Two months ago there were reports that a box set containing both versions will be released at a later date. The 4K restoration is said to be excellent so hopefully we will get a decent release of this great movie in the not too distant future... and then, of course, there's the other 20 minutes or so of additional scenes mentioned by Martin Scorcese.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users