In a just-up posting on the Filmmaker site, Nick Dawson speaks to Andrew Dominik, director of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which Dominik describes as ” a big beast of a film.” He epxlains that “there’s all kinds of westerns. Revisionist westerns, acid westerns, Nicholas Ray-type neurotic westerns, John Ford westerns, and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. We thought of it more like that kind of a movie, like Pat Garrett. [It’s a] western as a Greek curse.”

Barry Lyndon was also a big influence, Dominik says.

“It’s been a weird rollercoaster ride because last week we got a batch of reviews that came in,” he comments. “One was Andrew Sarris saying it was a masterpiece, and then we had People magazine saying the same thing. We thought, ‘Fuck, this is going to be great! We’ve got highbrow and lowbrow!’ (Hear that, Leah Rosen? You’re not writing for the intellectual elite.) “And it really looked good. And then the New York Times and L.A. Times came out and just slated it.

“So it’s been really interesting, because I think the critical response to the movie has been really polarized. It’s not universally liked, not by any stretch of the imagination, and those that dislike it really don’t like it! [laughs] So I don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad sign. I remember when Raging Bull came out, the Variety review was warning exhibitors not to book the picture, so when the Variety review for us came out and it was really good, part of me was like, ‘Fuck, maybe I’ve done something wrong…’

“But when do films really shake out, when do we really know if they’re important or not? It’s probably not in their initial release. But by the same token, the first time I saw Raging Bull, I knew it was one of the great, great films and I felt the same way about Barry Lyndon, which I saw when I was 12. I thought it was really strange and slow and so unusual, but it affected me hugely. But I think the critical weighing in on it has only come together very recently.

“I even went and saw a screening of it at the end of last year at the Academy [of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences] here [in L.A.], and my feeling sitting there in the theater was that most people were sitting there feeling like it was good for them to be there.”