Epic at Derby Quad – introducing the Extended Director’s Cut of Once Upon A Time In America
Well, here’s a coup. This Sunday I’ll be introducing what (I think: please correct me if I’m wrong) the first UK screening outside London of the restored, 251-min ‘director’s cut’ of Sergio Leone’s 1984 classic Once Upon A Time In America.
The screening is part of Epic! – my strand at Derby Quad for ‘films you must see on the big screen.’ They don’t come much bigger than Leone and this was his final masterpiece, hitherto broken by studio interference and indifferent marketing, but now restored to full glory.
This version premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival but has been hard to see since – it isn’t, for example, available in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray. It includes 22 minutes of additional footage, which doesn’t alter the plot but significantly enriches the themes and characterisations.
The result deepens Leone’s take on the American gangster myth, a project he pursued for so long he actually turned down The Godfather to make it. It’s simultaneously a lighter and darker affair than Coppola’s trilogy. Like Leone’s Westerns (notably, its near-namesake Once Upon A Time In The West) it takes a highly critical view of American history… and yet it is framed and scored with such brio that it becomes, as the director intended, both a dream and a nightmare.
So bask in over four hours of superlative work from stars Robert De Niro and James Woods; incredible music from Ennio Morricone and a fitting swansong for Leone, who died five years after the film’s release.
Once Upon A Time In America screens Sunday, 27th September, at 1:30 pm. To find out more, or to buy tickets, visit the screening page on the Derby Quad website.