Friday, November 17, 2006


Whatever side of the fence you end up on with Martin Scorsese films like Gangs of New York, The Aviator and The Departed, one thing seems inarguable—the man is an invaluable force in the field of film preservation. His latest announced endeavor, a three-year initiative launched by the director and organizers behind the fledging Rome Film Festival, aims to preserve a slate of Italian films heretofore fallen under the evil influence of scratches, fading, discoloration and other abuses. The titles of the films under consideration have yet to be decided upon, save for one: Sergio Leone’s masterpiece Once Upon a Time in the West will get the full restoration wash-and-wax in time to be unveiled next fall at the second Rome Film Festival. When I saw it the summer before last on the big screen at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood, I thought it already looked pretty damn good—the symptoms described in the Los Angeles Times Calendar section yesterday didn’t seem to be afflicting the print I saw. But any effort to preserve and spruce up a great movie like this one is, I think, to be applauded, especially since there don’t seem to be any plans to piece together a different, “expanded” version. Perhaps the Rome Film Festival appearance will be the forerunner to a modest big-screen re-release in the States as well. I’ll keep you posted. Cue Harmonica.

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