Saturday, October 30, 2010
The Assassination of Jesse James
It's no secret that I have fallen in love with Western films. I had the opportunity to watch a relatively new Western this week, and enjoyed it so much I'll be watching it again tonight with my uncle. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is set right in my backyard; Jesse James was born and lived in Clay County Missouri, not far from where I grew up and where my parents still live. The movie, starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, examines the tail end of James' lawless career and his ultimate demise at the hands of a member of his own gang, Robert Ford. I found this film fascinating on a number of levels. First, the acting was top notch - both Pitt (as Jesse James) and Affleck (as Robert Ford) were nominated for a host of awards following the film's release. However, it's Affleck who steals the show, portraying Ford's ambition, insecurity, sleaziness, and cowardice to perfection. Furthermore, I found that the film provided an interesting take on the idea of celebrity. Some scholars argue that Jesse James was the first "modern" celebrity, his fame spanning the country. Though he was cruel and merciless, robbing banks and killing anyone who stood in his way, you find yourself saddened by his assassination. But it's interesting - why are we drawn to individuals whose actions we fundamentally despise? It seems the same holds true with today's celebrities. Finally, the scenery is incredible. Most Westerns leave me in awe of the beauty of America's landscape. This was no different (although technically it was filmed in Canada). Still, you don't have to enjoy Westerns to enjoy this movie.