Despite having a troubled life, “The Assasination of Jesse James By The Coward John Ford” looks like the Western to beat this fall. At least from a critical perspective (“3:10 To Yuma” could best it at the box office for sure, but so what?). Directed by Andrew Dominik (the director of the incredibly overlooked “Chopper,” starring a pre-Hollywood Eric Bana as an legendary Australian criminal), the film stars Brad Pitt as Jesse James and Casey Affleck as Robert Ford (the film also has appearances by Zooey Deschanel, Sam Rockwell and Mary-Louise Parker).
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (Dirty Three, Grinderman) collaborated on the ‘Jesse James’ score together, one that the Hollywood reporter called, “languid, often mournful score that is almost a dirge.” Cave himself also appears briefly in a saloon scene to sing a well-known song from that era about Jesse and Ford. The trailer (featured below), showcases a lot of this doleful and dark score.
This is the 2nd movie soundtrack that Ellis and Cave have collaborated on (they composed the music for the 2005 Australian outlaw film, “The Proposition,” which Cave actually wrote and won some notable awards for it too, including an AFI award) and the duo have previously worked together for stage versions of “Metamorphosis” and Werner Herzog’s “Woyzeck.”
‘James’ has been in a three year struggle with the studio that wants a Western epic and Dominik, who has made more of an artful meditation. According to EW the film has gone through 34 different cuts and five different test screenings (which really doesn’t bode well). A month prior to its recent Venice Film Festival screening the film still wasn’t completety locked. ”The picture was supposed to be ready last fall and we weren’t ready,” Dominik said. ”So then basically you’re waiting until the next fall. It’s been arduous.”