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.
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)