Dead Man

Dead Man

This disappointment from Jim Jarmusch stars Johnny Depp in a mystery-Western about a 19th-century accountant named William Blake, who spends nearly all his money getting to a hellish mud town in the old West and ends up penniless and doomstruck in the wilderness. A benevolent if goofy Native American (Gary Farmer) takes an interest in guiding Blake on a quest for identity in his earthly journey, but the film is really just a string of endless shtick about inbred woodsmen, dumb lawm
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3 thoughts on “Dead Man”

  1. This review is from: Dead Man (1995) [VHS] (VHS Tape)

    How unfair is it that Tim Keogh of the Amazon.Com organization gets to lead off the list of reviews for this movie by stating – “This disappointment from Jim Jarmusch stars Johnny Depp in a mystery Western about a 19th-century accountant named William Blake, who spends his last coin getting to a hellish mud town in Texas and ends up penniless and doom struck in the wilderness.” I don’t know if Tim was busy stuffing his face with popcorn but he makes three erroneous statements in this first line of his totally off-base review.

    1) This movie is not a mystery! 2) Johnny Depp spends his last coin buying whiskey. 3) The “hellish mud town” of Machine is on the West Coast – not Texas. (After all, it would take a while to ride by horseback from Texas to British Columbia where the Coastal Indian Tribes were located).

    You may be asking yourself why I take issue with such mundane details? The answer is obvious – to prove the point that Tim Keogh wasn’t even watching this movie, and therefore, has no right to review it. Simply put, Dead Man is a cinematic masterpiece! Jim Jarmusch has made a number of strong movies, but Dead Man surpasses the others as a brilliant work of art.

    You can see by reading the other reviews that support for Dead Man borders on fanatical. There are few movies that I have watched repeatedly but I continue to see this one over and over again. Everything about the film is different from the conventions of Hollywood mass consumption “fast-film”. The story unfolds in a slow and methodical manner and requires much attention on the part of the viewer. If you invest in it, Dead Man will repay you many times over.

    If you liked Forrest Gump and The Sixth Sense then you can go see another mindless mainstream movie with Tim Keogh and the majority of the ignorant American public. If you need more than that . . . buy Dead Man. I’ll bet you watch it more than once!

  2. This review is from: Dead Man (1995) [VHS] (VHS Tape)

    I’m not allowed to refer to another person’s review here, but at the time of this writing, was posting a review of this movie that was clearly written by a person who was raised in Disneyland. This is one of the best movies ever made. Chicago Reader calls it an Acid Western and rates it “masterpiece”. It compromises to no filmmaking convention. It’s hardly possible to review it without giving away important aspects of the film the viewer should experience for her/himself. The movie is not a story, even though it’s told through a story. The evolution of William Blake from innocent Cleveland accountant to a symbol (for English-educated Native American reject Nobody, played by Gary Farmer) for poetry itself; the tiny little worlds of late-19th-century white Western of-necessity survivalists, and the effects these little worlds had on Blake; the hilarious campfire scene with Iggy Pop and Billy Bob Thornton (and a third person — can’t find out who), and the dying beauty of the natives; the brutal innocence of the disenfranchised Nobody whose illusions (or were they?) propelled Blake to his — future … I was completely immersed. There is only one thing wrong with this movie. I love Neil Young, but, unless I’m missing some important symbolism, his score could have been more, well, varied. There are not many movies I want to own but this is one.

  3. This review is from: Dead Man (1995) [VHS] (VHS Tape)

    I did not see Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man” when it first played in theaters, in large part because of the many negative reviews it received. Roger Ebert (who I admire) all but dismissed the film with his lowly *1/2-star rating. Ebert was a champion of Jarmusch’s “Stranger Than Paradise”, so I trusted him and avoided the movie. But now, having seen “Dead Man” on video, I feel many of these critics (who may have been expecting a traditional Western) were unfair in their judgements. This is a movie serious filmgoers should not miss.

    Johnny Depp stars as William Blake, an accountant from Cleveland who travels west with the promise of a job. This westward journey – the basis for so many other movies – is not, however, seen as something positive (Blake, in fact, is warned early on that the Western town of Machine will only offer him a grave). Things do not start off well. He arrives to find out that the accountant position has already been filled. He tells the office manager (John Hurt) that he wants to speak with the owner. The owner (played by the late Robert Mitchum) is, unfortunately, no more sympathetic and forces Blake to leave.

    Without enough money to return, Blake befriends a young woman who (like him) has had her romantic notions of the West crushed. She makes paper flowers, because a real flower would never be found in the ugliness of Machine. She shares her bed with him and is shot by her lover (Gabriel Byrne). Blake is also shot, but kills Byrne and escapes on his horse. He is soon found by an Indian named Nobody (Gary Farmer) who tells him that the bullet is close to his heart, so he is already a “dead man”. The two take off together and Mitchum (Byrne was his son) places a bounty on Blake’s head.

    “Dead Man” is an anti-Western, in the same tradition as Robert Altman’s “McCabe & Mrs. Miller”. But the film, which is shot in beautiful black and white by Robby Muller, is unlike any Western I’ve ever seen. There’s a poetic quality to the film. Blake is told that he shares the name of a great British poet not by any of the white people in the film, but rather by the Indian Nobody (who believes he IS the poet).

    The movie is very much pro-Native American and I admired the film for pointing out some unpleasant facts: like the fact that a million buffalo were slaughtered as a means of wiping out Indians (buffalo was one of their staples). Blake witnesses such a slaughter even before he’s left the train.

    And while I suppose this message could be found in “Dances With Wolves”, I found “Dead Man” to be the better film.

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