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This iconic Western scene left filmmakers unhappy and frustrated

It's widely regarded as one of the best Westerns around, but one iconic scene from this Brad Pitt movie left its legendary cinematographer a little frustrated.

Brad Pitt in the Assassination of Jesse James

Judging by the end result of the Brad Pitt movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, you’d think the filmmaking team would be pretty happy with themselves. But, even after crafting one of the best Westerns of the modern era, there was some frustration for Sir Roger Deakins and director Andrew Dominik.

The 2000s movie stars Brad Pitt, Jeremy Renner, Casey Affleck, and Sam Rockwell, among others. It’s a sublime and stylish movie based on a true story, with some of the best cinematography you’re likely to find on film. It’s so good-looking, in fact, that it was nominated for an Academy Award.

That didn’t stop Deakins and Dominik from being unhappy with one particular facet of their work. During a panel discussion at the 92nd Street Y (via IndieWire), Deakins aired his grievances with the production.

In reference to the now iconic train robbery scene, Deakins said: “I’ve got to say, Andrew and I got kind of frustrated because we couldn’t really find a train line that we liked, and we couldn’t find a period train to the scale that Andrew [Dominik] wanted. We ended up shooting in Edmonton [in Alberta, Canada] on a museum line, and luckily it goes through this little wooded area, but the train was really dinky. Andrew was absolutely frustrated at it.”

“A lot of things you do, you kind of make do with what you have. Part of the challenge was to make that train feel like a massive creature coming out of the darkness. The darkness hides a lot. I would never say I was happy with it afterwards. I was always kind of unhappy with it because it wasn’t as big as we wanted,” he added.

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While we understand how frustrating that process must have been at the time, we have to say the finished product looks incredible, and Deakins needn’t have worried, really. But hey, we’re not award-winning cinematographers with a filmography boasting some of the best movies of all time, so let’s just agree Roger knows best.

For more related to Andrew Dominik’s work, here’s a feature on why Blonde’s Oscar nomination sent a grim message about exploitation. Or, for something a little lighter, check out all the new movies on the way, and learn all about the Horizon release date for more Western action.