The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Until relatively recently, when Westerns became post-modern and started to dig into the ugly truths of frontier life, the Old West was mythologized to a great deal. Brave cowboys, beautiful dames, mustache-twirling villains, noble sheriffs, and often ugly portrayals of Native Americans. But even among those who lived through that time, certain individuals were mythologized to such an extent that they had fan followings and pulp fiction books written about them.

Jesse James was one of those men, an outlaw both feared and admired by the American public. Andrew Dominik’s 2007 film sees James (Brad Pitt) through the eyes of Robert Ford (Casey Affleck, in an Oscar-nominated performance). Ford joins James’ gang because of all the great stories he’s heard of James and practically worships the man. Ford eventually becomes a friend and confidante of the elusive and temperamental James, but as the title suggests, things don’t stay rosy between the two.

This is a great film, period, not just a great Western. As a character study, as a deconstruction of the Old West, as an analysis of honor among themes, and as a showcase for the most exquisite cinematography of Roger Deakins’ career, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a nigh-perfect film, and one that adds several new layers to one’s understanding of, and appreciation for, Westerns.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here