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Dead Man (1995) R 2h

July 8th, 2008 by Maxim · 1 Comment · 6,060 Views

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5/5

This dramatic western starring Johnny Depp was written and directed by Jim Jarmusch.

The plot: After death of his parents, William Blake, an accountant from Cleveland, takes a job offer and moves to the Town of Machine at the end of the train line. However he arrived about two months late. Penniless, he’s picked up by a woman on the street. When her husband Charlie Dickenson (Gabriel Byrne), son of the metal factory owner John Dickenson (Robert Mitchum) discovers both of them in bed, the married couple ends up shot and William Blake, now a wanted criminal, on the run. Wounded, he is helped by a lone Indian named Nobody, who believes the accountant is dead English poet and painter with the same name. As they travel through wilderness more people get killed. While the rumors about William Blake take on their own life, William slowly fades away from existence. ”Nobody” prepares him for the journey into the spiritual world.

The good: The decision to make this movie in black and white is quite brilliant. First of all, it adds a dream quality to the story (most people dream in black and white) – a color of memory or hallucination, or rather a color of something forgotten. Secondly, B&W film creates perception of being in Hell and may symbolize fight of light and darkness, good and evil. Thirdly, it may be interpreted as color of print on paper – like in graphic novels. Sin City used the same device. And finally, judging by the “special effects” used in the early movies, the director wanted to create a feeling of a movie actually made in 1920s. The dialogs, on the other hand, are quite contemporary. The electric guitar theme helps to establish this connection of time.

The movie is extremely slow – a technique used by masters like Andrei Tarkovski to make viewers focus on one aspect of a scene. Like Tarkovski’s movies, Dead Man if full of metaphor and symbolism. At the same time, subtle actions of characters or something they say, even if a single word, tell a story of their own – very thoughtful movie. The story grasps you and never lets go.

The film won Palm d’Or at 1995 Cannes Film Festival and New York Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography in 1996.

Great cast. Amazing directing and photography.

Town of Machine at the end of the line? “You are taking a job in Hell”, a train passenger advises Blake. Could this mean Purgatory? Everyone Blake meats on his journey shows some sort of human fallibility and dies as the result.

A baby deer shot in the neck, just like another victim.

“Nobody”. Could it mean something from the spiritual world, as in “no body”? A ghost of an exterminated race of people? A spiritual guide?

The bad: Very moody. Very slow, even gun fights. No action. It’s a frightening movie showing a man fading away.

The summary: this movie is fantastic. It’s absolutely unique. An almost surreal story of a man’s demise.

p.s.
Pretty scary how white men were ruling the new world. Killing a million of buffalo in one year, killing buffalo for fun and to starve remaining Native Americans – all part of the genocide.

The cast: William Blake - Johnny Depp | Nobody – Gary Farmer | Nobody’s Gilfriend – Michelle Thrush | Train Fireman – Crispin Glover | John Dickenson – Robert Mitchum | Charlie Dickenson – Gabriel Byrne | Thel Russel – Mili Avital | Benmont Tench – Jared Harris | Outpost Trader – Alfred Molina

The crew: Director – Jim Jarmusch | Writer – Jim Jarmusch | Producers – Demetra J. MacBride, Karen Koch | Photography – Robby Müller

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Rated 5/5 on Jul 8 2008
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Tags: Black and White · Cult Films · DVD · Dark comedy · Drama · Movies · USA · Westerns

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