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The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • A gem in filmmaking with flawed Blu-ray, a must for aficionados.

    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • The Blu-ray of 'The Assassination of Jesse James' features stunning yet flawed visuals; constrained by single-layer compression and technical issues, its beauty and cinematography are compromised.

  • Audio
  • The Blu-ray's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack lacks lossless clarity but offers solid dialogue and atmospheric effects. Despite its limitations and a mix of hit-or-miss sound effects, it provides an immersive experience, yet leaves room for improvement.

  • Extra
  • The DVD release of 'The Assassination of Jesse James' lacks features, with only one 480p, 31:48 documentary included on the Blu-ray, missing a chance for engaging commentary.

  • Movie
  • A cinematic marvel, 'The Assassination of Jesse James' blends fine filmmaking, deep character study, and innovative Western tropes, though its brilliance is undervalued in major awards.

    Video: 56

    The Blu-ray video presentation of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" brings this 160-minute epic to life in 1080p on a single-layer BD-25 disc. While the transfer faithfully captures the film's intended visual aesthetic, particularly notable when contrasted against its standard DVD release, it's not without its shortcomings. The film's color palette is purposefully muted, adorned in sepia tones that enhance atmospheric depth but at the expense of visual vibrancy. Black levels, though deep, at times obscure detail in darker scenes, while intentional cinematographic choices render some shots soft or distorted. The breathtaking cinematography and majestic shooting locales do offer moments of visual splendor, with certain sequences displaying a remarkable level of clarity that approaches the spectacular.

    However, the Blu-ray's technical aspects don't always do justice to these visual strengths. The decision to compress the lengthy film onto a constrained 25GB disc invariably leads to noticeable compression artifacts that detract from the overall viewing experience. The contrast is consistently average, making what could be dynamic imagery appear somewhat flat and lackluster. Additionally, edge enhancement is egregiously apparent, creating an unnatural separation between subjects and their backgrounds, which can be particularly distracting and detracts from the high-definition experience expected from a Blu-ray release.

    Despite these issues, there are instances where the video quality shines, particularly in the detailed rendering of both natural and indoor environments where the golden hues and depth of field add a rich layer to the visual narrative. However, these moments of brilliance are overshadowed by the various technical missteps, including the intrusive edge enhancement and compression issues. The video presentation, while adequate in its faithful representation of the film’s aesthetic, leaves room for improvement and ultimately falls short of reaching the potential afforded by the Blu-ray format.

    Audio: 61

    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" offers an audio experience via its Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that, while lacking a lossless mix, manages to provide a competent and engaging listening experience. The dialogue is consistently crisp and clear, ensuring that every word is discernible, which is crucial for a film that leans heavily on its narrative and performances. Ambient sounds from outdoor scenes, including the rustling of leaves and the ambient noises of insects and birds, bring a level of authenticity and immersion, although these effects predominantly engage the front speakers with less emphasis on the surround channels. The soundtrack's dynamics, including swift pans and the natural sound of interiors, contribute to a soundscape that, despite its technical limitations, remains detailed and enveloping.

    The audio track's treatment of gunshots and action sequences reveals some inconsistencies; some firearms deliver a substantial auditory impact, while others feel underwhelming. This variance could detract for audiophiles seeking uniformity in sound design but is unlikely to mar the overall experience for the general audience. The film’s score traverses the soundstage with adequate presence, supported by suitable bass levels and some rear-channel activity that adds depth without dominating. While the soundtrack could have benefitted from a lossless option to enhance these aspects further, the existing mix maintains a balance that complements the film's subdued and dialogue-driven approach.

    Overall, the Blu-ray's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack navigates its limitations to deliver a solid auditory component for "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford." Although it lacks the pristine clarity of a lossless mix, it crafts an atmospheric and immersive experience that supports the film's visual storytelling. With its attentive sound design, from environmental sounds to the subtleties of indoor acoustics, the track serves the film well, drawing viewers into the world it weaves with an understated yet effective aural landscape.

    Extra: 19

    The Blu-ray edition of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" provides a modest yet insightful supplement to the cinematic experience. The exclusive bonus feature, a documentary titled "The Assassination of Jesse James: Death of an Outlaw," offers a nuanced exploration into the legend of Jesse James, blending historical insights with perspectives from the film's cast and crew. While the documentary stands alone in the extra content, running at approximately 31 minutes and 48 seconds, its depth partially compensates for the absence of other expected inclusions such as directorial commentary or even a basic trailer. The Blu-ray's singular focus on this documentary reflects a minimalist approach, prioritizing quality analysis over quantity of extras, yet leaves a sense of missed opportunities to delve deeper into the film's thematic complexities and production intricacies.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • The Assassination of Jesse James: Death of an Outlaw: A documentary providing a detailed analysis of Jesse James' life and his portrayal in the film, featuring interviews with historians, cast, and crew.

    Movie: 71

    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a compelling cinematic journey through the life and ultimate demise of one of the most notorious outlaws in American history, reframing the traditional Western genre with a nuanced character study that delves deep into themes of hero worship, identity, and betrayal. Anchored by Brad Pitt's enthralling portrayal of Jesse James and an Oscar-nominated performance by Casey Affleck as Robert Ford, the film excels in drawing the viewer into a complex relationship between these two central figures. Affleck’s depiction of Ford is particularly noteworthy, capturing a spectrum of emotions that portray Ford not simply as the "coward" his title suggests but as a tragically flawed individual trapped by his own aspirations and illusions. The film's strength lies in its ability to shift perceptions, revealing layers upon layers within each character, turning erstwhile caricatures into fleshed-out, believable people.

    The technical aspects of the film, from Roger Deakins' breathtaking cinematography to Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’s atmospheric score, work in harmony to create a richly textured world that transcends the boundaries of typical Western fare. Each frame is crafted with meticulous care, evoking the era with a vividness that is both stark and beautiful. The pacing of the film, while deliberate, allows for a profound exploration of the dense narrative and complex relationships, culminating in a climax that manages to be both expected and profoundly impactful. The methodical build-up enhances the sense of inevitability surrounding Jesse James' assassination, turning the climax into a moment of deep emotional resonance rather than merely a historical reenactment.

    While The Assassination of Jesse James challenges viewer expectations with its unorthodox approach to the Western genre and a runtime that demands patience, it rewards those willing to immerse themselves in its world with a deeply engaging study of mythos, mortality, and the murky waters of human morality. This film stands as a testament to the artistry possible within the confines of genre cinema, blending historical events with a keen insight into the human condition. Its exclusion from major award consideration only underscores its position as a singular achievement; a masterful blend of storytelling, performance, and technical craft that upends traditional narratives to reveal the complexities beneath.

    Total: 56

    'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford' Blu-ray presentation garners mixed feelings, albeit leaning towards a positive consensus due to the film's intrinsic merits. The movie itself, transcending its poor box office performance, stands as a cinematic gem. It is a meticulously crafted narrative that unfolds deliberately, leveraging every scene to weave a compelling tapestry of storytelling that challenges the boundaries of the Western genre. The film boasts Oscar-nominated performances and cinematography, coupled with outstanding direction and a score that demands recognition. Its pace and storytelling style make it an essential viewing experience for cinephiles, despite the Blu-ray's presentation shortcomings.

    Technical aspects of the Blu-ray offer a nuanced picture. The high-definition video quality, while not flawless, does justice to the film's stunning visuals more often than not, but it's marred by inconsistencies that detract from the overall experience. Auditory presentation fares better, with a robust sound mix that accentuates the film's mood and tension. However, the package falters significantly in its extras, providing a sparse selection that leaves much to be desired for those seeking a deeper exploration into the making and significance of this film. For enthusiasts of the genre and the film, this release represents an upgrade from DVD quality but demands tempered expectations regarding its additional content and transfer quality.

    In conclusion, 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford' Blu-ray should find a place within the collections of those who appreciate cinematic artistry and those drawn to this distinct narrative. While falling short in augmenting the viewing experience with rich supplemental material and delivering a perfect visual transfer, the Blu-ray edition remains the best home viewing option available for this profound and visually stunning film. It's a recommended purchase, with advisories on its imperfections, solidifying its status as a film worthy of discussion and admiration, albeit with a caution to manage expectations regarding the Blu-ray presentation's technical aspects.