The Blu-ray Disc
Once Upon a Time in the West is presented in 1080p high definition with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Paramount has done a stellar job with this presentation, which features incredible amounts of fine detail, especially apparent in Leone’s trademark close-ups. Every nook and cranny in Bronson’s face is reproduced with exacting precision, and it’s not just the close-ups that look good. Image sharpness and clarity is highly improved over DVD. The film’s grain structure is intact and pleasantly noticeable throughout, giving the image a strong film-like quality. Colors are mostly vibrant and true, although faces can look a little oversaturated and tend toward the red end of the spectrum, although it’s not a bad look and may replicate the intended color timing.
Audio is presented in a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that expands the film’s mix subtly and effectively. Dialogue is perfectly clean, effects are credibly dynamic and Morricone’s score features great clarity. The original mono mix is also included.
The disc features both the theatrical cut and the minute-longer restored version, seamlessly branched here.
All the extras from the special edition DVD are ported over here, and everything, save for the theatrical trailer, remains in standard def. An audio commentary with a long list of participants — historians Christopher Frayling and Sheldon Hall; directors and fans John Carpenter, John Milius and Alex Cox; Cardinale; and writer Bernard Bertolucci — is included, along with three lengthy featurettes about the making of the film. A short piece on the history of railroads in America, a look at the locations then and now, and a gallery of production photos round out the disc.
The Bottom Line
Picking a favorite Leone film might be a difficult task, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t consider the masterful Once Upon a Time in the West, especially with it looking this good.