Taking place in the American Northwest in the early 1880s, the film dramatizes the last seven months in the life of famed outlaw Jesse James, beginning with the Blue Cut train robbery of 1881 and culminating in his assassination at the hands of Robert Ford the following April. In the time between these two fateful events, the young and jealous Ford befriends the increasingly mistrustful outlaw, even as he plots his demise. Written by
Cinematographer Roger Deakins has called the arrival of the train in darkness is one of the high points of his career. See more »
As the gang members wait during the day to rob the train at Blue Cut that night, one gang member recites a poem by Catullus ("My love says she would marry only me ..."). The words are from "Catullus: The Complete Poems for American Readers", by Reney Myers and Robert J. Ormsby, published in 1970. See more »
He was growing into middle age, and was living then in a bungalow on Woodland Avenue. He installed himself in a rocking chair and smoked a cigar down in the evenings as his wife wiped her pink hands on an apron and reported happily on their two children. His children knew his legs, the sting of his mustache against their cheeks. They didn't know how their father made his living, or why they so often moved. They didn't even know their father's name. He was listed in the city ...
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The film does not contain either an opening title nor intro credits. The film title is displayed first after the final fadeout. See more »
Wow, does this film have style or what? The Assassination of Jesse Jamed by the Coward Robert Ford, is one of the longest titles I've ever seen for a film and the movie's run-time follows the same pattern. I have no problem with this. I would sit through a ten hour "Jesse James" because of the excellent tone given out by director Andrew Dominik. The frozen Missouri/ Kansas landscapes are a treat for the eyes. The musical score does its job: to blend into the film so subtly that I cant imagine the images on the screen without it. The narration neither detracts or adds to the tone, although there is one bit of bad editing that confused my friend as to whether the narrator was speaking or a man's voice had been dubbed poorly.
"Jesse James" delves deep into the inner conflicts and emotions of every character. We live with them, eat with them, and often feel their pain or their confusion. This confusion is often associated with the bi-polar nature of the film's central character, Jesse James, played by none other than Brad Pitt. Casey Affleck delivers a subtle performance here that actually becomes the most effective as the film progresses over its 160 minute running time. I hated Robert Ford for a good portion of the film, thought he was so annoying and clingy that it was a wonder Jesse James didn't kill him within the first day of their complex relationship. But then, as I sat through the so called "gruelling" running time of the film, I learned to feel for him and understand his motives and attraction for Jesse. But ultimately, his childhood, comic book worship of the famous outlaw changes.
The "style" of the film is evident in the first frame of passing clouds. Roger Deacon's cinematography is the best I've seen since Conrad Hall's work in Road to Perdition, perhaps better. He is definitely winning the Oscar this year, between this and No Country For Old Men. There is a scene involving a train robbery where the visuals and utter style blew me away. The lighting and camera direction becomes more subtle and less noticeable after the train scene, but, does not lessen in quality and pure artistry. There is a topic on the IMDb message boards approaching the topic of whether certain films should be labeled "art films." Well all films are works of art, some are horrendous, some are extraordinary. Well, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is an extraordinary work of art.
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