There’s a 4.18 Variety story from Nick Vivarelli in Rome about a new “redux” version of Sergio Leone‘s Once Upon A Time in America (’84) that will screen next month in Cannes. Halfway through the piece is the following: “Redux adds 40 minutes of original footage to the 229-minute running time.” In other words, it will run 269 minutes, or a minute shy of four and a half hours.
So why didn’t Vivarelli or his editors simply say that? Declaring that Once Upon A Time Redux adds 40 minutes of footage to the 229-minute running time is like describing the 44 year-old Judd Apatow as a guy who’s kept a grip on mortality for 12 years since turning 32.
No journalist covering Cannes 2012 is going to sit through a 269-minute time machine zone-out…nobody except for fringe Leone fanatics and sentimentalists who go to older films to weep about their lost youth. There’s too much to cover at Cannes and too little time as it is. That said, I would love to see the Redux version some other time. Maybe it’ll play at the American Cinematheque or LACMA later this year.
Excerpts from OUATIA‘s Wikipage: (a) “The original shooting-script, completed in October 1981 after many delays and a writers’ strike that happened between April and July of that year, was 317 pages in length” (b) “At the end of filming, Leone had about 8 to 10 hours‘ worth of footage. With his editor, Nino Baragli, Leone trimmed this down to about almost 6 hours, and he originally wanted to release the film in two movies with three-hour parts” (c) “The producers refused (partly due to the commercial and critical failure ofBertolucci’s two-part Novecento) and Leone was forced to further shorten the length of his film, resulting in a completed (i.e. scored, dubbed, edited, etc.) film of 229 minutes.” And then the Ladd Co. ogres cut it down even further to 139 minutes, and it was this version that went out to theatres in the initial general release.
So there are now three versions of the film: the 269-minute Redux version, the 229-minute version and the all-but-disappeared 139-minute version, which Encore reportedly aired in 2009.