It’s been a long and winding road for Joel and Ethan Coen’s latest directorial outing. Originally announced as a “limited series” via Annapurna’s television department in January of 2017, the production of the Coens’ newest western “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” remained heavily under wraps. And the original report turned out to be wrong and it was Netflix footing the bill and releasing the picture. In July earlier this year (nearly a year and a half later), it came as a surprise when the project was slated to premiere as a feature film – rather than a limited series – at the Venice Film Festival. Following its Italian premiere (read our review here), we now have our first look at the highly anticipated (and semi-enigmatic) western in the first trailer for the film.
Obviously, some narrative decisions were made during production and the project now plays as an anthology feature (and or it was always meant to be a film and the original press reports f*cked up). In a statement to Variety, the Coen Brothers expanded on their enthusiasm for anthologies: “We’ve always loved anthology movies, especially those films made in Italy in the Sixties which set side-by-side the work of different directors on a common theme… Having written an anthology of Western stories we attempted to do the same, hoping to enlist the best directors working today. It was our great fortune that they both agreed to participate.”
As expected for any Coen production, the ‘Buster Scruggs’ ensemble is rather remarkable – starring previous collaborator Tim Blake Nelson (“O Brother, Where Art Thou?”), Zoe Kazan (“The Big Sick”), Liam Neeson, and Tom Waits. Joel and Ethan also teamed back up with their Oscar-nominated “Inside Llewyn Davis” cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, who shot the immaculately dry western landscapes of ‘Buster Scruggs’ on the Arri Alexa – making this the first digitally-shot project from the Coens. The first taste of Delbonnel’s camerawork can be seen below, in the first trailer for the project.
Here’s the full synopsis and full cast list.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a six-part Western anthology film, a series of tales about the American frontier told through the unique and incomparable voice of Joel and Ethan Coen. Each chapter tells a distinct story about the American West.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is written, produced and directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, with Megan Ellison, Sue Naegle and Robert Graf serving as producers. The cast includes Tyne Daly, James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Heck, Grainger Hines, Zoe Kazan, Harry Melling, Liam Neeson, Tim Blake Nelson, Jonjo O’Neill, Chelcie Ross, Saul Rubinek, Tom Waits, Clancy Brown, Jefferson Mays, Stephen Root, Willie Watson. The film won Best Screenplay at the Venice Film Festival this past weekend.
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” premiered recently at the Venice Film Festival. The movie is a rare day and date release for Netflix; on their streaming platform and and out in select theaters on November 16.