One of the best films nobody went to see turns 10 years old this weekend 4 years ago

One of the best films nobody went to see turns 10 years old this weekend

If you haven't already seen it, then you need to rectify that immediately.

Released in cinemas on 21 September 2007, The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford was a bit of a strange beast.

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It arrived in a bit of a down period in terms of the Western revival, a decade and a half after Unforgiven, but a few years before True Grit, Django Unchained or Bone Tomahawk.

It did arrive the same year as No Country For Old Men, the western disguised as a pitch-black thriller, but where that movie had Javier Bardem's bowl haircut and brain-mushing cattle-gun, Jesse James sold itself on nothing more than its own bleak beauty.

There was a lot about the film that seemed to turn audiences off before they even went to see it: that unforgivably long title for one, a bum-numbing run time in excess of two-and-a-half-hours, and from a writer/director who had previously only given us the brilliant-but-uncomfortable Eric Bana-starring biopic Chopper.

The movie sat on a shelf for almost two years after it was completed, with the producers having apparently no idea how to sell it, and despite being made with a relatively minor budget of just $30 million, it wound up making barely half of that in the worldwide box office.

For those who made the effort though, all they had to see was the opening train heist scene to know that they were about to watch something truly magnificent...

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Clip via vive le cinéma

Everything you need to know about the movie is represented perfectly within that one scene.

The incredible all-star cast including Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Sam Shepherd, Zooey Deschanel, Sam Rockwell, Mary-Louise Parker, Michael Parks, Ted Levine and Paul Schneider, all of whom give some of the best performances of their entire careers.

That eye-piercingly beautiful cinematography by Roger Deakins - the eye behind the likes of The Shawshank Redemption, Skyfall, The Big Lebowski, Sicario and the upcoming Blade Runner 2049 - that continuously keeps up with new and innovative ways to ensure that this has the right to claim to be the most beautiful western ever made.

Once the music kicks in as the train arrives, you recognise the incomparable talent that is Nick Cave, both hugely lush and full of impending sadness and doom, in that manner that only Cave can evoke.

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And finally there is Andrew Dominik's script and direction, taking a famous story about a famous character, and turning it into a very modern take on the intoxicating power of celebrity, and the deconstruction of myths that build up around anyone we ourselves define as a personal hero.

Pitt is both very charismatic and indefinably scary as Jesse James, while Affleck is magnetic as the more-than-slightly obsessed Robert Ford, who wants nothing more than to be seen as an equal by his hero, who himself is having a tough time equating the man he is with the man the world perceives him to be.

To be fair, much like the title, The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford doesn't exactly scream "FUN!" at the audience, as it does meander towards its own depressing, albeit inescapable conclusion (spoilers: if you haven't seen the film, then you probably shouldn't have read the title).

However, just like the title, the sense of grandeur is almost oppressive: in the vast grandeur of the Old West, every word and every action by every man may contain enough power and influence to be heard through the ages, and you either become a legend like James, or get practically written out of history, like Ford.

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Unfortunately, the movie almost went the way of Ford, tanking in the cinemas and failing to win either of its two nominations - for Affleck and Deakins - at the Oscars.

However, many still fight the good fight to make sure it goes the way of James. Mark Kermode wrote in The Guardian that "historians a hundred years from now will consider it "one of the most wrongly neglected masterpieces of its era.". In 2016, a group of international journalists named it among the 100 best movies made since the year 2000. Empire Magazine listed it on their Top 500 Movies Of All Time feature earlier this year.

And now, on its tenth anniversary, it is fully deserving of the attention and love it never received in the first place.

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford: one of the greatest movies ever made that nobody went to see.

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Clip via Movieclips Trailer Vault