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Dead Man
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Movie Details

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Directed By
Jim Jarmusch

Written By:
Jim Jarmusch

Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Lance Henriksen, Michael Wincott, Mili Avital, Crispin Glover, Gabriel Byrne, Iggy Pop, Billy Bob Thornton, Jared Harris, Jimmie Ray Weeks, Mark Bringleson, John Hurt, Alfred Molina, Robert Mitchum

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Dead Man (1996)
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Movie Review by Jesse
March 8th, 2008

Visionary Jarmusch - A 90's Classic

Favorite Movie Quote: "That weapon will replace your tongue. You will learn to speak through it. And your poetry will now be written with blood."

Dead Man (1995)
director: Jim Jarmusch
starring: Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Lance Henrikson, Robert Mitchum, John Hurt, Alfred Molina, Gabriel Byrne, Iggy Pop, Billy Bob Thornton, Crispin Glover

Quite the obscure film, but also one of the best films of the 1990's. Jim Jarmusch, director of such 1980's classics like Stranger Than Paradise and Down By Law, helms this fantastic satire on American Westerns and American culture in general. This film is like a two hour poem that doesn't fail to impress and ignites a sense of existentialism in the brilliant story by Jarmusch. I've never been a fan of the Western genre, but what Jarmusch does with this film is completely different than what Sam Raimi did with The Quick and the Dead or what James Mangold did with 3:10 to Yuma. Both are solid Westerns, but Dead Man has a much deeper meaning and a satiric side that allows it to comment on American culture in a way that Westerns usually do not.

This film is different in its treatment and representation of Native Americans, also. The normal stereotypes of natives are present, but the natives themselves prove not to be such people. One of the film's main characters, Nobody (Farmer), is a Native American, but proves to be smarter than anyone else in the whole film. Exposed to not only American, but European culture when he was a child, he is aware of poetry and identifies Depp's character as the famous poet William Blake. Indeed named William Blake, Depp is not the poet, but just an average man with the same name. The pairing of Depp and Farmer in this film is something truly poetic in itself. The conversations between the two and the teachings are most often poignant and have extreme importance to the rest of the film.

What I like the most about this film is that every scene is crucial and needed to explain the film's message. It's a fantastic film and the writing and direction by Jim Jarmusch is a rarity nowadays. His vision is brilliant and his overall representation of America is avant-garde, yet contemporary.

The black and white treatment of this film is strangely beautiful and necessary in keeping with the poetic mood. There's one scene where William Blake and Nobody are riding on horseback through a forest, leaves falling slowly from the treetops... it left me speechless. It was beautiful and was probably my favourite scene in the film (aside from the fantastic ending).

This film is a fantastic achievement for Jim Jarmusch, but hasn't received much critical praise and is considered a waste of film by some. I found it to be one of the greatest and most interesting satire I've ever seen. This is one of my new favourite films and probably one of the best from the 1990s. Highly recommended.

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