Dead Man - Directed by Jim Jarmusch a jpoc movie review
A great film with a fine soundtrack.
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Main Cast
Johnny Depp William Blake
Robert Mitchum John Dickinson
Mili Avital Thel Russell
Gary Farmer Nobody
Gabriel Byrne Charles Ludlow 'Charlie' Dickinson
Michael Wincott Conway Twill
Eugene Byrd Johnny 'The Kid' Pickett
Steve Buscemi Bartender
Mark Bringleson Lee
JimmieRay Weeks Marvin
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The jpoc Rating: Eight out of ten.
I first saw this film on the third of March 1997 at the Styx in Brussels. I saw it next a few months later at the same cinema when the tickets were very cheap as part of Brussels "La Fete du Cinema". By spooky coincidence, as I watched it that night, Robert Mitchem died.
The jpoc review

Every time you watch this film, it reveals some more of its character. Is this a western, a road movie, a black comedy, surreal art or just something to look at while you listen to Neil Young's eerie sound track? To find your own answers you must watch it yourself.

Set in the late nineteenth century, we see Johnny Depp playing William Blake, a young accountant who gives up his sheltered life in Cleveland to head out to the Wild West. He has a job offer from a manufacturing company owned by John Dickinson (Robert Mitchum) in a lawless town called Machine which is literally, "the end of the line."

The film starts with his train journey out to the west and we see him becoming gradually more uneasy as the civilised East turns into the rough and dirty West. All too soon he is in Machine where he finds out that the job has gone to another man bacause Blake took too long in getting there. Out of money, he ends up in bed with Thel Russell (Mili Avital) the prettiest girl in town. When her boyfriend arrives, Blake's troubles get worse. After the ensuing gunfight, Blake flees, mortally wounded and leaving two bodies behind him.

The father of the dead boyfriend, Dickinson again, hires a group of killers to catch Blake. Also, he calls in the Marshals and posts public rewards. Since this is a road movie, Blake needs a buddy and he teams up with Nobody (Gary Farmer) an outcast Native American who just happens to have a passion for the poems of the more famous William Blake. Nobody accepts Blake as the embodiment of the real poet and assumes, because the the poet had already died and the man he sees now is slowly dying, that Blake must seek a place to die and return to the world beyond.

Nobody sets out to help and guide him on his journey. They must dodge the bounty hunters, marshals and citizens who want the reward and along the way, Blake turns into a man who can kill without remorse.

Surreal barely describes the people that they meet and, generally, kill on the way. There is a lot of humour ranging from Nobody's observations of European "civilisation" to the constant sniping (figurative and literal) between the three bounty hunters sent to kill Blake. Also thrown into that mix is a cameo performance by Steve Buscemi and a pair of Marshalls called Lee and Marvin!

Shooting the film in black and white and using a soundtrack that is just a constant guitar presence rather than a set of songs, gives the film an outward appearance that well matches the content.

Many people will doubtless find this film deeply unappealing or offensive but they will be missing a movie that is as refreshing and stylish as anything else from the nineties.