Westernsreboot.com has made the argument in a number of posts that The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), directed by Andrew Dominik, and starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck in the title roles, is a deeply rich film that rewards repeated viewings. The subtleties of acting from a strong ensemble cast, the evocative cinematography, and the haunting and moody musical score combine under the direction of Dominik to create a Western that reaches beyond the genre.

Publicity Still - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Publicity Still – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)  / Click to Enlarge

There is now an ongoing movement to revive attention for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. The website JesseJamesRevival.com is leading a series of screenings that it hopes will see the film placed into the programs of repertory movie houses. A repertory house is one that features classic and/or noteworthy past films.

The film is set in the last of year of life for the historical outlaw Jesse James (1847-1882) and examines such themes as celebrity, loyalty and regret.  The narrative is viewed via the cinematic eye of Roger Deakins, who created scenes with a blurred effect around the borders of the frame. This effect was achieved with the placing of older wide-angle lenses onto the front of a camera – Deakins has described this effect as an attempt “to create the feeling of an old-time camera”. The score of the film, composed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, is similarly moody, melancholic and reflective. Here is the official trailer for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007):

JesseJamesRevival.com had its first screening of the film with a two-day event December 7th and 8th, 2013, at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. That first showing had director Andrew Dominik in attendance. The author of the source novel for the screenplay, Ron Hansen, was present the second day. Tucson, Arizona, was the next screening location on December 17th and a major screening is set to take place on February 15th, 2014, in Los Angeles. The film will be shown at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California, and will be include a question-and-answer session with director Dominik. Information for the LA screening can be found at LA Screening of Jesse James – the website also offers the opportunity to follow developments on Twitter and to receive news via email. 

As final note, while the final public version of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford runs 2 hours and 40 minutes, there have been reports of a 4-hour version among the different edits created. Brad Pitt stated in one interview that the longer version created the opportunity for even more character development. This writer believes, as the ongoing revival movement demonstrates, that there is an audience for an expanded version of this incredible film.

(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)


  1. I’d love to see this on the big screen. I think Andrew Dominik is one of the best directors currently working. His first film, Chopper, got a lot of positive press, but his next two films — this one and Killing Them Softly — underperformed, at least with audiences. But I think they’re both masterpieces.

  2. Thanks for the visit and comment, Adam….and I hope you are enjoying the DVD copy of TAoJJ that you won on at least the biggest at-home screen you can find. 🙂 The detail and colors of the film will stand out even more on larger screens.
    All the best,

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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