(aka 'The Assassination of Jesse James')

Directed by Andrew Dominik
USA 2007


Given the funereal vibe and dusky imagery of Andrew Dominik’s gloriously depressive Western, it would be easy to just slap a revisionist-oater label on the movie without questioning what, exactly, is being revised. The concept of a filthy, immoral frontier is as clichéd as bad guys in black hats, and whatever heroic qualities were once attributed to Jesse James (Pitt) have long since been corrected. Then it becomes clear what’s being given a fresh perspective here: the reputation of one of history’s most infamous scaredy-cats. Watching the legendary train robber’s uncontrollably violent tendencies, you don’t think of Robert Ford (Affleck) as a yellow-belly, but as a man forced to put down a rabid dog.

That unique take on the myth—as well as the film’s ironically cannibalistic notions of celebrity—is enough to make Assassination intriguing. Yet it’s Dominik’s uncompromising, uncommercial vision and the two leads that give the story such a wonderfully wounded grandeur. Despite one copycat shot from McCabe & Mrs. Miller, the director is more interested in evoking the best Westerns of the ’70s than in constructing a pastiche. Dominik’s no stranger to getting great performances out of actors (see 2000’s Chopper), yet what he brings out in both Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck is astonishing. Watching the former’s charismatic sociopath slowly develop a death wish and the latter turn Ford’s jellyfish-like fortitude into self-destructive resolve is enough to make you feel that other filmmakers haven’t taken advantage of their talent.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE


Theatrical Release: September 2nd, 2007 - Venice Film Festival

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DVD Review: Warner - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:39:25 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.0 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUBs: French and Spanish
Subtitles English, English (CC), French, Spanish, None

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: February 5th, 200
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Chapters: 37





It's nice to see another western hit Hollywoodland, and although I don't rate this effort anywhere near the caliber of 3:10 to Yuma it does have some redeeming features. I suspect that my major complaint is that it is overly long - spending an inordinate amount of camera time trying to read Pitt's non-existent facial cues. It tries hard to report factual details - of which I am sure most are very accurate, but it can't help promoting and slanting in expected directions. For straight historical value though it is educational for sure - maybe that's the best attribute.

The dual-layered, progressive Warner DVD (anamorphic 2.35:1 ratio) looks very good... with but a few limitations. Again I am seeing what I perceive as SD weaknesses - less than vibrant color representation but detail is exceptional and considering the, over 2 1/2 hour, film shares the DVD with no supplements (and fills almost 8 Gig of the disc) it is probably as strong as it will appear on Standard DVD. I saw no post-production manipulation. In fact digital noise is also very limited and, of course, the print is super clean. I think the caps below give a very fair representation of how the DVD image looks. It is very strong overall. Audio is a standard 5.1 and it sounded terrific when called upon - there are 2 foreign language DUBs if required plus optional subtitles.

The film is better than I may have represented in the opening paragraph and the best thing about this DVD is the price - it's worth every penny (about $16) even though there are no extra features. Of this I am quite surprised but the overly-long film is surely enough to sate most fans - you get enough historical detail with added mini-bio/featurettes. The film is probably too long for a commentary as well. I'll comment on the high-definition versions as we obtain them, but I expect that will surpass in visual appearance. If so - they should be very good.


Gary W. Tooze



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NOTE: Intentional edge-distorted slow-motion scenes, like below, are present throughout the film



















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Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC


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