Dead Man Reviews
But this is not a bad movie at all. It took me a second view, to really appreciate it, to enter int the mood, and get some of the many subtleties and quotations it lists.
After the aforementioned, "It is a good day for a canoe trip" really reminds "It is a good day to die" (from The Little Big Man). One shot of a western porch, with Johnny Depp sitting, reminds the porch in the ending of "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" ... and, I wonder how many more quotations could be found, including some Carl Barks ("Land of the Totem Poles", featuring Donald Duck).
Not counting, of course, the innumerable references to the poet William Blake that, unfortunately, can't be understood by any one not native English speaking.
It seems that here Jim Jarmusch had collected everything from the western genre, and out from it, assembling many maybe not really new ideas, but in an impressive package. Actually, I do not see many new original idea, here, just a tasty and original assembly of good borrowed ones.
I know this movie has became a cult, as it happens to many movies by Jim Jarmusch (these "independend" moviemakers usualy develop a network of hardcore fans, no matter what they do), but I feel it is quite overrated. Nor, despite my efforts, I could see it as a "psychedelic western". It is a western, withouth adjectives.
However, and despite I keep to like more Sergio Leone, this is a heck of a very good western movie.
Clearly Jim Jarmuschâ(TM)s most expensive movie as a way to ensure that he captured the right detail for the setting of his story, Dead Man is a bold move on his behalf which is packed with plenty of determined ambition.
The story in Dead Man is an interesting one, and it is great that Jim Jarmusch himself is the man to be telling it. As I say in every review of a Jim Jarmusch film, people not familiar with his style or opposed to it are likely to find themselves alienated by Dead Man, and the fact that the film is a western which means that it follows a slow pace combined with the already slow pace of each Jim Jarmusch film is another driving force. To put it blankly, Dead Man has a slow pace over the course of its running time of 115 minute running due to both the genre of the film and the directorâ(TM)s style, so it is not a film for the easily impatient. Admittedly even I was thrown off by the pace of the film at the beginning of it due to the amount of time it would take for the story to develop and the protagonist, but once things began to manifest themselves into becoming the unforgettable film that Dead Man would later turn out to be, it became immensely interesting.
Dead Man becomes great as the gritty western themes begin to seep into the film. It starts out as a western drama but gradually develops into a more trippy and psychedelic film as it goes on, and itâ(TM)s a Western film like no other. Adopting the counterculture theme seen in many Acid Westerns during the 1960â(TM)s and 1970â(TM)s decades, Jim Jarmusch brings back some original themes from long ago for Dead Man which makes it an interesting film thanks to the strength of its nostalgic theme. Dead Man looks into Western themes not commonly touched upon by the more mainstream additions to Western cinema and it therefore establishes its own sort of genre, the psychedelic western genre which Jim Jarmusch has coined the name of. Jim Jarmusch's stylish handling of Dead Man make the story a mesmerising venture which is also intelligently scripted with a touch of black humour as well, and those who can appreciate the film for what it is should truly enjoy it. I know I did, because Dead Man was one of the most refreshing twists on the western genre that I have seen in a long time.
The cinematography in Dead Man defies the stereotypical western archetype and instead adopts a more noir theme which has it shooting from up very close to capture the tense facial gestures of the cast while also shooting from a distance to ensure that the scale of the story is maintained. It keeps the mood of the film constantly very trippy which establishes the atmosphere of the feature. The visual aspects of Dead Man combine with its musical score to make everything feel empty and directionless which is the true nature of the west, and it captures the incredible production design and the gritty nature of everything that is happening. So Dead Man is arguably one of Jim Jarmusch's most twisted and complicated pieces which is atmospherically rich.
Dead Man is very interesting from a technical perspective in terms of how its musical score was created. Neil Young improvised many guitar pieces as he watched footage of the film which Jim Jarmusch would later implement in, and that is terrific because it makes everything feel organically timed when it comes to the musical score. Not just that, but the music in Dead Man gives the atmosphere the trippy and psychedelic edge that it really needs to achieve an acid western feel. The music emphasises the grim silence of the world by coming from nowhere and reminding audiences of the silence with music which establishes the mood but doesn't break the silence. In some odd way, the music makes Dead Man seem even quieter because it is like the ultimate apect of the film which gets viewers into the mind of protagonist William Blake and makes us understand what is going on in his head. Nothing is happening because nothing makes sense, and it feels almost as if the music emphasises his bleak confusion. There are a lot if ways to interpret the music in Dead Man, and the effect it has on the film and the viewer is grand.
And when it gets to the cast, Dead Man boasts a lot of talent.
Johnny Deppâ(TM)s lead performance in Dead Man is one of the strongest driving forces behind the immense success of Dead Man. The complicated character he faces is like none other in Dead Man, and it is excellent to see him taking on such a character-driven role in a low key film. The man is more famous for his multi-million dollar grossing films such as the Pirates of the Caribbean series or his works with Tim Burton, so for him to take on the role of Jim Jarmuschâ(TM)s creation William Blake is just terrific. You can see him start off as a small time accountant as he gradually gets dragged into the harsh reality of the postmodern west, and from there he develops at a slow pace which fits into the context of a Jim Jarmusch film. Dead Man features some of Johnny Depp's best talents outside his reputation as a character actor because he really restrains himself with his performance, and the effect is brilliant. Johnny Depp is silent for much of Dead Man, and the mere expressions on his face say more than words ever could, so Dead Man certainly features one of his best film performances.
Gary Farmer's role as Nobody, a strong and opinionated Native American who was forcibly raised by whites and later given the mocking name "He Who Talks Loud, Saying Nothing" is unlike any Native American I have ever seen in a western film before. Attempting to stay true to his roots but succumbing to how he has been raised, Nobody is an odd character. But Gary Farmer takes on the eccentric character very well and through his rough line delivery and consistent emotional strength, he works the material very well and becomes the source of many laughs in Dead Man for its black humour. Gary Farmer is terrific in Dead Man.
Crispin Glover gives a firm performance because the instant he comes on screen in Dead Man, audiences see some of the understanding of the west that William Blake would later grow into. Crispin Glover establishes his character of the Train Fireman as a man who has stayed alive in the west somehow for so long, and as he mentors William Blake on how to survive by facing the unexpected, he creates a strong chemistry with Johnny Depp. It is great to see them working together considering that 15 year later they would again star in the high profile feature Alice in Wonderland, so to see them both in gritty low profile filmmaking in Dead Man is entertaining and nostalgic as well.
John Hurt's small appearance is also a nice touch as it always is with a Jim Jarmusch film, and Robert Mitchum's final film performance gives the film another little gritty touch to the film. It is great to know that his last film appearance is in a film of the quality that Dead Man is.
So Dead Man is slower than the average western, but it's psychedelic mood and approach to its themes shows the endeavour of Jim Jarmusch's talents, and that combined with Johnny Depp's lead performance makes it my favourite Jim Jarmusch film to date.