DEAD MAN, 1995
On the run after murdering a man, accountant William Blake encounters a strange Indian named "Nobody" who prepares him for his journey into the spiritual world.
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Dead Man is a project that Jarmusch wanted to do for several years. He never worked with the big production companies and maybe that’s why he couldn’t find the right budget. The budget was one million and when the film released in US it brought in one million dollars. It received mixed reviews in the first years but now everyone agrees that this is a masterpiece by Jim Jarmusch.
It’s a native American story by a nonnative American director. Jim Jarmusch describes his film as ‘Acid Western’. You can easily say that it’s also a road movie. It’s the story of William Blake. He comes to American Old West type of town from Cleveland because he receieves a letter that he’s got a job in Dickinson Metal Works. He learns that the letter is too old. He leaves the place hopeless and suddenly he meets a with a beautiful girl. At the same night he kills Mr. Dickinson’s son who killed the girl who is the daughter of Mr. Dickinson. Then he tries to escape from the hunters that Mr. Dickinson sent after him. While he was escaping he meets an Indian named Nobody. This is the very short plot of this complicated story.
Dead Man is about a lot of things. It’s nonsense to explain these themes This time Jarmusch has a lot of characters in his story and he again successfully creates convincing characters.
The supporting characters are also powerful… well most of them. Lance Henriksen as Cole Wilson and Michael Wincott as Conway Twill are the most stunning performances of the film. The hunter trio that included them is almost a clichÈ but their stupidity or cruelty is far advanced than Dalton Brothers. Especially the talkative hunter, Conway Twill is the strongest character in the film.
Music is the really big actor in the film, in contradistinction to Jarmusch’s earlier films. The only music you can hear in his earlier films is the music that plays from a real source like radio, television or gramophone. This time he has a composer, a guitar god, Neil Young. Young only used his electric guitar for his compositions and his music helps to build up the atmosphere for the story. You never feel the music is too much, even tough in a Jarmusch film.
At first sight, ‘Dead Man’ is not a usual Jarmusch film. In some scenes you can feel the static and funny mood of a Jarmusch film but this is kind of an epic and sometimes it’s just the opposite what he did up to that date. Anyway, this is still the last great Jim Jarmusch film, still.