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John Drew

All the Pretty Horses (2000)

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Are there any other fans out there? I have to say that I outright love this much maligned film. I think Billy Bob Thorton's direction is superb, the cinematography gorgeous, and Matt Damon's performance the best that he's delivered. I even love the potpourri music score by Marty Stuart, Larry Paxton and Kristin Wilikinson, even if it was a last minute change imposed by the producers to replace Daniel Lanois' original score.

I had originally seen All the Pretty Horses in a theatre when it played briefly in 2000, and then happened to come across it last week on Easter Sunday. I came away thinking that this was the perfect day to see this film, as it does have some aspects of a Biblical nature - journey towards destiny in the desert - betrayal - death - ressurection - redemption - even a J.C. character (Damon's John Cole).

Of course, it's not perfect. What film would be that has had nearly two hours cut from it? Supporting character development suffers, especially Penelope Cruz's Alejandra and Ruben Blades as her father Don Hector. But it at least survives with a storyline intact that makes sense for the most part (unkile the savagely cut two hour version of Once Upon a Time in America). I have read the book, and know a lot of it must have ended up on the cutting room floor. It would be wonderful, though it seems an impossibility at the moment, to get a chance to see a director's cut with the Daniel Lanois score reinserted.

It's a pity that the film didn't receive any studio support. It would have been interesting to see if Billy Bob would have gone on to film the rest of Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy, and what Damon might have done with an older John Cole character in Cities of the Plain.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

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Matt Damon talks to Playboy:

You’ve made big movies, not so big movies, hits, bombs. Is there one film that nearly made you want to pack it all in?

Everybody who worked on
All the Pretty Horses
took so much time and cared so much. As you know, the Cormac McCarthy book is set in 1949 and is about a guy trying to hold on to his old way of life. The electric guitar became popular in 1949, and the composer Daniel Lanois got an old 1949 guitar and wrote this spare, haunting score. We did the movie listening to his score. It informed everything we did. We made this very dark, spare movie, but the studio wanted an epic with big emotions and violins. They saw the cast, the director, Billy Bob Thornton, and the fact that we spent $50 million, and they never released our movie—though the cut still exists. Billy had a heart problem at that time, and it was because his heart fucking broke from fighting for that film. It really fucked him up. It still bothers me to this day.

So... we managed to get the studio to release an extended cut of *another* Matt Damon movie years after it was filmed, i.e. Margaret. Might there be momentum to get an extended cut of *this*?

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