Immensely satisfying, Dead Man is a masterpiece from independent maverick Jim Jarmusch, an historically accurate rendering of the American West that follows the spiritual journey of Wiliam Blake (Johnny Depp) from life to death. Not _that_ William Blake, of course, but the misperception does allow Jarmusch to quote a lot of Blake's poetry, delivered sometimes as faux Native American idioms by Gary Farmer, playing Nobody, Blake's guide on the journey. For this is really a road movie, terrain that cinematographer Robby Muller has visited before with Wim Wenders (friend and mentor to Jarmusch); his black and white footage of the serene wilderness contrasts with the stark views of the ugly white man's town of Machine - both are spectacular. Neil Young's solo guitar score is haunting, ruminative, evocative, sacred - the film would not have reached such heights without it. Most road movies are episodic, as the characters meet other players along the road and have adventures of various kinds and Dead Man is no different; Blake runs afoul of Iggy Pop, Billy Bob Thornton, & Jared Harris who might kill him and Alfred Molina who wants to sell Nobody an infected blanket. The white men are portrayed as flawed and violent here (beginning with Robert Mitchum in his final role), at least as compared to the Native Americans (who are not necessarily idealized). As Blake/Depp travels half-dying (or already dead) from urban decay through pure natural environs to the sea, I am reminded of James Mason's spiritual journey in Carol Reed's Odd Man Out (1947), as an IRA leader who is shot and eventually leaves worldly things. Mason is followed by the cops but Depp is followed by three bounty hunters who meet various untoward ends, allowing Jarmusch to employ some gallows humor. And, although the movie does have some idiosyncratic anecdotes and Jarmuschian moments, mainly it is a majestic, poetic, astonishing meditation on the rape of the land and indigenous peoples, transmuted into William Blake's experience and his writing by fire. At his point in our history, we may all be dead already.