More About Dead Man
In bringing his distinct vision to the Western genre, writer-director Jim Jarmusch has created a quasi-mystical avant-garde drama that remains a deeply spiritual viewing experience. After losing his parents and fiancée, a Cleveland accountant named William Blake (a remarkable Johnny Depp) spends all his money and takes a train to the frontier town of Machine in order to work at a factory. Upon arriving in Machine, he is denied his expected job and finds himself a fugitive after murdering a man in self-defense. Wounded and helpless, Blake is befriended by Nobody (Gary Farmer), a wandering Native American who considers him to be a ghostly manifestation of the famous poet. Nobody aids Blake in his flight from three bumbling bounty hunters, preparing him for his final journey--a return to the world of the spirits.
Jarmusch once again employs the beautifully contrasted black-and-white photography of Robby Müller, which sets a poetic, dreamy mood. He also fades in and out of scenes in order to better reflect Blake's dazed, weak mental state. Adding an even greater depth to the film is Neil Young's haunting score, which completes the overall effect. DEAD MAN stands firmly as a timeless work of art whose impact only increases upon subsequent viewings.
Main Cast & Crew
Jim Jarmusch - Director
Billy Bob Thornton
Independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch reaches a new plateau in his career with this poetic anti-Western. DEAD MAN follows William Blake (no, not the famous poet), an innocent young man who travels out west in order to find employment but ends up a wounded fugitive on the run from ruthless bounty hunters. Partnered with a spiritual Native American named Nobody, Blake begins to morph into the outlaw that he is mistakenly considered to be. Jarmusch's profound drama features a wonderful performance by Johnny Depp, as well as a moving score by Neil Young.
Theatrical release: May 10, 1996. DEAD MAN premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1995. Segments of the film were shot on location in a national forest in Sedona as well as the Peaks Ranger Districts, Arizona. DEAD MAN is dedicated to the memory of Dick Pfeiffer and Paul D. O'Brien. The two marshals that appear in the film are named Lee and Marvin, in tribute to Lee Marvin, the great Western actor. This film was one of Robert Mitchum's final screen appearances before his death in 1997. Steve Buscemi makes an uncredited appearance as a bartender.
"...Striking black-and-white camera work..." - 05/30/1996 Rolling Stone, p.56
"...DEAD MAN looks beautiful....Neil Young's soundtrack has many moments of great beauty..." - 07/01/1996 Sight and Sound, p.41-2
"...A piquant humor and eccentric mood that brand it with the mark of one of America's most distinctive indie filmmakers..." - 06/05/1995 Variety
"...Sensational....The movie beautifully sustains a vision of the West as wild in the most primal and scary sense of the word..." - 05/10/1996 New York Times, p.C3
"...Hilarious, silly, facetious, violent, mystical....DEAD MAN is finally a poignant lament for the cursed coming of the white man to the West..." - 04/15/1996 Los Angeles Times, p.F5
"[C]ritics called it one of the finer films of 1995, a droll, cerebral, postmodern, hipster social-critique masked as a frontier adventure..." - 08/16/2012 Wall Street Journal