This site has put forward The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) as an important film for its meditative and powerful interpretation of both the Jesse James story and attendant subjects such as celebrity and regret. This writer believes that the film is an artistic work that is “rich” – i.e. it can support multiple viewings and approaches that range from the thematic to the technical.  Featuring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck in the title roles, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was directed by Andrew Dominik with cinematography by Roger Deakins.

JJ movie still
Image – Warner Bros. /

While filming was completed in December of 2005, it would take almost two years for the movie to be released. There has been speculation that Warner Bros., which collaborated with Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment on the film, desired a final edit that was more conventional. There have been reports of over a dozen different versions of the film existing with the longest running over 4 hours in length. The final version released to the public runs 2 hours and 40 minutes – it received a limited US release on September 21st, 2007.

The second trailer released for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford actually provides a viewer who has seen the film once an opportunity to catch scenes that did not make the final public version. This second trailer has been criticized for misleading viewers toward expecting a more action-focused film than what was released. That said, the trailer is useful for glimpses of additional scenes that in some cases are drawn directly from the 1983 source novel for the film, which was written by Ron Hansen. The following analysis is this writer’s current reading of the extra scenes and different edits that the second trailer provides:

0:32 – 0:34 – A clearer, less fuzzy version of James walking in town is provided – the same scene in the opening of the film has a much more blurred effect and doesn’t show him tipping his hat at one point.

0:57 – Bob Ford cocks a gun while leaning against a wall in his sister’s farmhouse – that scene was not in the finished film.

1:08 – James puts a finger to his lips to tell Ford to be quiet when discussing their robbery of a train – that action was not in the film.

1:24 – A crowd rushes the house in which James was assassinated – that scene is not in the film but is included in the novel.

1:29 – Zee James, wife of Jesse, tells Bob Ford how it is gruesome to be hunted – that line and scene is not in the film.

1:37 – 1:42 – James asks Ford what it is he is most afraid of…to which Ford replies “afraid of being forgotten” – that scene is not in the film but is in the novel.

1:50 – A clear, frontal view of James as he waits for the train his gang is to rob was not included in the final edit.

2:06 – A clearer and different angle of the face of James saying that a confession is needed immediately was not in the final public version.

This writer believes that there is an audience that would enjoy and appreciate a longer edit of the film, specifically as some reports claim that the longer versions give time for even further character development. Whether such a director’s cut will be released remains to be seen….hopefully it will.

(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s