Home4k Blu-raySergio Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West gets a 4k...

Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West gets a 4k Upgrade: Review

Once Upon a Time in the West 1969 Paramount Presents 44 4k UHD angle
Once Upon A Time In The West (1968) 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray Buy on Amazon

Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West (1968) has been remastered in Dolby Vision and HDR10 for release on Ultra HD Blu-ray and a new HD Blu-ray print. The edition is No. 44 in the Paramount Presents series of physical media editions, which started with Fatal Attraction (1987). The packaged media features a mini poster that folds out from a slipcover, copies of the film on 4k Blu-ray and Blu-ray (with the remastered presentation) and a code to redeem a Digital Copy. This edition comes twice-wrapped in plastic, once on the outside slipcover and again around the clear plastic Blu-ray case. Each disc has its own printed graphics on the front, with the HD Blu-ray containing both the feature film and special features. 

This edition includes the newly restored 165-minute version of the film, thankfully not the theatrical version released in the US that was cut to 145 minutes by Paramount (although, it would be interesting to see this version). The longer version was, however, re-released in 1984 for theaters and for home video. We should note, Paramount labels Once Upon A Time In The West as a 1969 release, based on the US premiere. But the movie was actually released in Italy in 1968, and this is the year IMBD organizes the title. 

Once Upon A Time In The West screen photo 2
Once Upon A Time In The West (1968) starring Claudia Cardinale

How does the 4k presentation look? Sharpness is pronounced especially in backlit shots. Close ups and inserts reveal the most pronounced imagery, although long shots are full of details to consume. See the screen photo of Italian actress Claudia Cardinale for reference. As far as color, Once Upon A Time In The West looks like a film from the 60s, with super saturated colors and thick black levels to contrast bright highlights. The color grading has an aesthetic not unlike period photographic imagery shot on transparency film for print in publications such as National Geographic.

What’s remarkable is the skies of the desert are not blown out like you might find in other movies shot on 35mm film. The retention of detail in the highlights is a testament to the filmmakers who exposed perfectly for both highlights and shadow areas. Sure, there is a little bit of crunching in the blacks, but the HDR really expands the lower value areas and exposes more detail than we’ve seen before on Blu-ray. DVD, and in streaming formats.

The 4k remaster is not perfect though. There are shots that, given the source material, as not as sharp as one would hope. There is some noise reduction in the wide shots, where grain (now noise) seems to have smoothed over. This is more noticeable on backlit and OLED screens rather than projections. We mentioned crushed black levels earlier, which you might find to be a negative on this 4k presentation.

The movie played at bitrates between 20 and 50 Mbps, depending on the scene. This is not as high as other Blu-ray discs (compared to The Crow which hangs out around 50 Mbps and even peaks over 105 Mbps), but effective nevertheless.

The soundtrack to Once Upon A Time In The West is offered in DTS–HD 5.1 channel surround sound (same as previous Blu-rays) and restored mono Dolby Digital. French, Spanish, Japanese, and Deutsch are also provided in Dolby Digital mono. Surround effects are minimal, which would be awkward anyway to have a film like this overstated in effects. Both audio formats are worth listening to, but we found the mono offered a richer experience, delivered right from the screen, compared to the more spread out and relatively thin 5.1 mix. 

Once Upon A Time In The West screen photo 1
Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)

The sound is mostly good, streaming at about 3 Mbps. However, there are moments when screams and gunshots are distorted and the source material can’t really be fixed by post-processing. For the most part though, it’s a relatively good dialogue mix that’s separated enough from the music, composition and effects.

There are many more languages than indicated on the back of the Blu-ray disc spec sheet. Upon disc start up, you can choose between English, German “Deutsch”, French, Spanish, and Japanese. Subtitles and offered in multiple languages not just the English and French mentioned in the specs.

Bonus features include legacy materials as well as new audio commentary by the hosts of the Spaghetti Western Podcast and “A Look Back with Leonard Maltin.” There is commentary you can follow along with on one of the audio tracks from directors John Carpenter, John Milius & Alex Cox, film historians Sir Christopher Frayling & Dr. Sheldon Hall, and cast and crew.

We’re scoring Once Upon A Time In The West on 4k Blu-ray 5/5 (Movie), 4/5 (Video), 3.5/5 (Audio), and 3.5/5 (Special Features). It’s a must have remaster for fans of the film, the genre, and Director Sergio Leone. The Dolby Vision HDR really provides a cinematic experience indicative of what the film may have looked at its best in theaters.

Once Upon A Time In The West (1968) 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray open
Once Upon A Time In The West (1968) 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray Buy on Amazon
HD Report
HD Reporthttps://hd-report.com
HD Report provides news, commentary, and information about home entertainment media and technology. HD Report has been a Google News partner since 2006, and can also be found on Twitter, Apple News, and Facebook.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Fire HD10 Tablet Only $95!

Fire HD10 10.1

Hot 4k Blu-rays!

Godzilla | Kong Monsterverse 5-Film Collector's Edition
Dune: Part Two 4k Blu-ray
Dune 2-Movie 4k Blu-ray Collection

4k Blu-ray Deal!

Sony Pictures Classics 30th Anniversary 4k Blu-ray

OLED 4k TV Deal!

Samsung 65-inch OLED 4k TV

4k/HDR TV Deal


New Articles

Support Us!