Although he’s only made four features, with his highly anticipated Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde on the way, his films have all gained a certain cult following. None moreso than 2007’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, a poetic Western ode that starred Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. The acclaimed film didn’t do much at the box office anywhere, but it’s considered Dominik’s masterpiece, but for years there have been rumblings about an awesome 4-hour director’s cut.
The rumors about a 4-hour cut have been bolstered by cinematographer Roger Deakins who has talked about how much he wished that version could’ve been shared because it wa so much better than the theatrical cut. Dominik himself has talked about a longer version, too, however in a new interview to promote his Nick Cave and Warren Ellis doc This Much I Know To Be True, the director shoots down any idea that it’s over 4-hours in length, but does agree in the extended edition’s quality…
“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.”
“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 somebody tried 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.”
“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.”
Dominik added that the 3-hour version is better than the released one, too.
“The problem with it was—the really good scene in the film, it sat in the version that was 15 minutes longer,” he said. “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.”
More haggling with the studio over final cut would’ve have been worth it, for sure. But I’m blown by the idea that nobody wants to release this extended version of The Assassination of Jesse James, especially Criterion. It seems like something they’d leap at, especially given the fervor people still have for the film to this day. [via ThePlaylist]