While the movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford from director Andrew Dominick wasn’t a hit when it was released in 2007, the revisionist Western has earned quite a following in the 15 years since it first came out. Appearing on many best of the year lists in 2007, earning two Oscar nominations (Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins and Best Supporting Actor for Casey Affleck), and with a remarkable cast that includes brad pitt, Sam Shephard, Jeremy Renner, Sam Rockwell, Mary Louise Parker, Paul Schneiderand Zooey Deschanelthe appreciation of Dominik’s film has consistently grown—and for good reason.
2022 is shaping up to be a big year for Dominik as well. Dominik has his Marilyn Monroe-inspired drama Blonde hairstarring Ana de Armascoming this year to Netflix, as well as his documentary about Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, This Much I Know to Be True, coming soon. Speaking to Dominik for the release of This Much I Know to Be TrueCollider’s Steve Weintraub talked about The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (which featured a score by Cave and Ellis), about the long-rumored four-hour cut of the film, how long Dominik’s longer cut of The Assassination of Jesse James really was, and what Dominik’s longer cut of the film included.
Previously, Deakins talked with Collider about a longer cut of The Assassination of Jesse Jamessaying of the film:
“It should be [on Criterion]. I would really like to see the long version, the first cut that I saw, released on Criterion. That’s what I’d hope for… It was over three hours. I don’t think it ever will, because last time I talked to Andrew about it he was quite happy with the version that got released. But I still remember that first early cut that I saw that was like three and a quarter I think, and it was pretty stunning. There was a four-hour version. The first cut was like four hours, I seem to remember.”
Since that conversation, fans have wondered about the longer cut and how long it actually was. When asked if this longer cut existed and how fans could see it, Dominik replied:
“It does exist. There used to be a video store around the corner from me where I was living in Los Feliz. And I thought I could just have the director’s cut in this one video store. You know what I mean? Like, I could just have a little DVD that I’ve made that we could just rent from this one video store. But the video stores are gone now.”
Despite the absence of brick-and-mortar video stores, Dominik has tried to release this longer version in other ways, a version that Deakins has said that he loved. In talking about other attempts to get this longer cut released, Dominik said:
“Listen, we tried to get Warner Bros. to allow us to release a longer version of it. They’re not interested in doing it, and I think tried somebody to petition Criterion to do it. Criterion were not interested in jesse james. There is a better version of jesse james—in my opinion—that’s about 15 minutes longer. And that’s the one that Roger was talking about. He’s never seen one that’s longer than that.”
Dominik says of this longer version: “There was a three-hour version, right? 15 minutes longer than what it is, three hours. There was never a four-hour version that was any good, believe me.” However, longer doesn’t always mean better, but Dominik states that not only is his three-hour The Assassination of Jesse James the better version, but so is another version that includes just five extra minutes. “I think it’s better. Yeah, and there’s another version that’s five minutes longer than the release version that I think is better, and there’s a version that is 15 minutes longer that I think is better.”
So what didn’t make the cut in this longer version? According to Dominik, these extra fifteen minutes include a “great scene in the film.” Dominik says:
“The problem with it was—the really good scene in the film, it sat in the version that was 15 minutes longer. It didn’t sit in the version that was only five minutes longer. Although, I think in that version, we used a truncated version of the scene, but there’s the moment where the film was done, in my opinion. That was the one that was 15 minutes longer. But there’s another year of warfare that happened from that moment on.”
Whether we will see this either longer cut of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is anyone’s guess, but it certainly seems like Dominik’s preferred version should absolutely get an audience at some point.
This Much I Know to Be True will show in theaters for a global cinema event on May 11, while Blonde hair is scheduled for release on Netflix in 2022. Also, look for our longer interview with Dominik coming soon.
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