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Mesmerizing and haunting tale of love, greed, regret, betrayal and revenge
5/10 This is, for me, one of the finest examples of cinematic art. It isn't a simple, cut-n-dried 90 minute little package that gets wrapped up with a pretty bow at the end. You get pulled in by the enigmatic opening that unwinds the threads of the story to be found later. For many people having half an hour of purely visual story telling, of stories that are only mysteries at that point, before anything becomes truly linear is difficult to follow and discourages to many people. Our own memories are only snippets that only become linear as we concentrate on scenes from our lives. Once Upon a Time in America is like that as we follow Noodles through the `significant' part of his life - the times that formed him. When the story actually starts, we meet the girl that he always loved but could never have.4 years ago
David `Noodles' Aaronson (DeNiro) was a kid on the very mean streets of Brooklyn when organized crime was born in America and he grew into and out of it. That's the simplest synopsis of the plot. The reality is that this isn't a movie about gangsters. Being a gangster is the easiest way for Noodles to survive and get ahead, but it also alienates and ruins his one love. Whenever he is close to giving himself to Deborah he always gets pulled back into the gang, in some form or another.
DeNiro's portrayal is of a gangster, through and through, who also has a conscience that, while not preventing him from being a ruthless killer, rules his life with regret, remorse and guilt. Leone takes a bit of poet/historic license by showing the Brooklyn Bridge being built in the background (the bridge had been built 40 years before), but it symbolizes Noodles' own growth. When the bridge is just pilings and incomplete towers, Noodles is just forming his future. By the time the bridge is complete, Noodles is nothing but a gangster and the bridge is majestic. When he returns 35 years later our view of the bridge is from under a freeway -- the world has moved along, but the bridge and Noodles are just as they were.
The length: If you're looking for a brief distraction that you'll barely remember 30 minutes later, this isn't the movie for you. However, if you are prepared and able to be undistributed for the nearly 4 hours that this film uses to compress a lifetime -- you will be rewarded with many facets of thought and examination.
A masterpiece and an atrocity!
10/10 This movie was a masterpiece. It ranks as one of the very best in film history, if not the best. At Cannes people yelled and screamed, couldn't believe just how good it was. The profound atrocity was a combination of two completely brainless acts, the first being Zack Stienberg's hatchet job for US release, supposedly requested by either Warner Bros or The Ladd Company (one blames the other now) and the second was the lack of anyone (and everyone)to post anything in this great film for Academy Award consideration, of which probably as many as 14 nominations and 4 sure- fire Oscars went down the toilet.4 years ago
These atrocities were perpretrated, I believe, with two reasons in mind, the first to preserve the dim hope of "The Killing Fields" (Daly & Semel's baby) of garnering any awards... and second, to try to boost up the non- foreign chances. Warner Bros knew just how good it was, that goes without saying. The problem was... they already had their share of cash cows and they wanted a real star- studded showpiece to point at. The small minds already had their showpiece but, alas, it was an "eye- tallyan" flick with a producer/director who didn't communicate well. The hatchet job was carefully planned, I believe... the so- called "sneak preview" was done in Canada and not well received, probably due to the fact that the sound system was over- amped and the film 'broke' 3 or 4 times during the showing, what a farce! The awards snub started with the GGs and carried right thru. What a myriad of stupid and utterly pointless decisions! Must have literally tore Leone's heart out when he learned what they had done.
Morricone's score was a sure- thing Oscar, no question about it. DeNiro and maybe even Woods would have fought it out for best actor, Tuesday Weld as supporting actress, any one of 4 or 5 other supporting actors & actresses, most notably William Forsythe, cinematography, film editing, the list goes on & on... (best picture...Amadeus???? give me a break!!) Just what in the hell were they thinking?
Saw it in a theater 20 years ago and then again on TV about 1998 and finally in its correct format(on DVD) about two years ago and again last week at a friend's house. Stirred up all those angry thoughts all over again... sorry about that, getting' old & crotchety.
Make sure you get the director's cut!
10/10 Many people compare "Once Upon a Time in America" with "The Godfather". In my opinion these two movies can't be compared. Both are masterpieces in their own way, but each of them has a different style. You don't compare a Picasso to Michelangelo's Sixteen Chapel either, do you?4 years ago
What is it that makes this movie a masterpiece? Well, first of all there is the director. Sergio Leone is a real master when it comes to creating a special atmosphere, full of mystery, surprises and drama... He's one of the few directors who understands the art of cutting a movie in such a way that you stay focused until the end.
The way the movie was cut is also the reason why a lot of Americans don't think this movie is very special. There are three versions, but only the European version is how the director imagined it to be. He didn't want his movie to be shown in chronological order (1910's - 1930's - 1960's), but wanted to mix these three periods of time. The studio cut the movie in chronological order, loosing a lot of its originality and therefor getting a lot of bad critics. If you want to see this film the way Sergio Leone saw it, you have to make sure you get the director's cut.
The second reason why this movie is so great is the music. Ennio Morricone, who is seen as the greatest writer of film music ever, did an excellent job. Together with the images, the music speaks for itself in this movie. From time to time there isn't said a word, but the music and the images on their own tell the story. He understood perfectly what Sergio Leone wanted and composed most of the music even before the movie was shot.
Last but not least there is also the acting and the script. The actors all did an excellent job. But what else can you expect from actors like Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci... They helped making this movie as great as it is by putting there best effort in it. The script helped them with it. It took twelve years to complete, but it hasn't left any detail untouched. The writers really thought of everything when creating it.
I can really recommend this movie to everyone, but especially to people who like the gangster genre. When you want to see the movie, you better be sure that you will have the time for it. This isn't a movie that is finished after 90 minutes. You'll have to be able to stay focused during 3 hours and 47 minutes, which will certainly not be easy during the first 20 to 30 minutes. Some scenes at the beginning only make sense when you have seen the end of the movie. But when you are able to stay focused, you'll find this one of the best movies you've ever seen. I certainly did and I rewarded it with a well deserved 10/10.
A Profound Expression of Truth Regarding Friendship andBetrayal
10/10 This film is a profound expression of truth regarding friendship and betrayal. Noodles, played by Robert De Niro and Scott Tiler (during childhood), is a simple man and a thug with one credo: you can battle the entire world but you never betray a friend. During the course of this film we experience various pieces of Noodles's life, from childhood, through young adulthood and old age. We learn what happens to his friends, his foes and the love of his life, Deborah. The time span considered is long, including Noodles's childhood shortly after the turn of the century, through the prohibition era, and finally the 1960's.4 years ago
The film is about relationships; the many years Noodles spends away from his friends receive only a cursory mention. The film, like life and memories, unfolds slowly and reflectively. Sergio Leone's cuts are long and each scene is beautifully amplified my Ennio Morricone's haunting score. The story is not told chronologically. Instead, the chapters of the story are slowly revealed like pieces of a great jigsaw puzzle. Each delicious piece might make us laugh, or cry, or smile, or feel shock. But, as each piece falls into place, a mystery unfolds. When the final piece is revealed, the true essence of the story becomes clear and a sad and beautiful tapestry comes into view.
This film is a true masterpiece, expressing a profound statement about friendship and betrayal, with fantastic acting, writing, directing and music. There is a shortened, two-and-a-half-hour version of the film released that is a disaster. It is like trying to understand a jigsaw puzzle with half of the pieces missing. The original four-hour film can be viewed and enjoyed several times and each time the viewer will see something new.
Best movie ever made?
10/10 Simply the best movie ever made. Dot.4 years ago
Life. Love. Friendship. Nostalgia. Souvenirs. Childhood. Adulthood. Betrayal. Children's dreams. Psychology. Sex. Manhood. Womanhood. Romance. Illusions. Acting. Ambition. Glory. Fate. Masochism. Sadism. History. Death...
Some even say it's a movie on Italian Mafia...
This movie is to cinema what "A day in the life" is to modern music : an evocation of what life is, in a global approach, with its darker sides and its epic moments, and in the end everything is vain and you die. Magnified as always by the superb work of Ennio Morricone, and the perfect acting of De Niro and Woods, it was for Sergio Leone THE movie of his life, his long time cherished plan, his masterpiece to end with. Additionally, it has become THE movie of the 20th century.