Date of Release: May 26, 1995
Director and playwright: Jim Jarmusch
Main artists: Johnny Depp (William Blake), Avital (Thel Russell), Gary Farmer (Nobady), Lance Henriksen (Cole Wilson), Michael Wincott (Conway Twill) and John Hurt (John Scholfield).
Bill Blake comes in the town of Machine to work in a factory as an accountant; but unfortunately he has come just one month late because of his parents’ death and dealing with their funerals and so he losses the job. At the coming night of his arrival in to town, Bill confronts with a hawker girl and being invited to be with her for the night but the girl’s former boy friend (son of Machine’s Metal Works Company owner) comes and bill obliged to kill him as self-defense and he himself became wounded. He ran away and at morning waking up he meets Nobody who is an English literate Indian; he calls William Blake the Dead Man as he has name of a dead English poet and also carrying a bullet in his chest. They start a journey to escape from their prosecution(ors), on way they face with different surprising and adventures; these events transforms William Blake into a cold blooded man slaughterer just for his survival. It makes a killing-field which their death is its outcome.
Time: the film is set in late 19th century,
Place: in extreme western frontier of America.
Genre: Western, Drama
“It is preferable not to travel with a dead man.” Is a quotation from Henri Michaux with which the movie begins, so initially it is obvious that the audiences are going to watch a fully metaphoric movie. William Blake (1757-1827), English poet, painter, and engraver, who created an unusual form of illustrated verse; his poetry, inspired by mystical vision, is among the most original, lyric, and prophetic in the language is name of the main character and Nobody which I think can be a metaphor from American dramatist Arthur Miller’s most renowned work, Death of a Salesman (1949) which tells the story of a traveling salesman, Willy Loman, who experiences frustration and failure as he reflects upon his life, in a scene that Charley (Loman’s friend)speaks over the salesman’s grave start with “Nobody dast blame this man. You don’t understand: Willy was a salesman…” is name of the second man. Both are metaphors seeking and fighting for their identities: Blake has lost his kin and hits the road to west in search of a location where he can ignite a new life. Although it’s asserted in the finishing scripts that it’s a fictional story and no one should be considered as any real character but to a high extend Willy Blake (the dead man) represents the ex-President Andrew Jackson who was a orphan as Billy is and a Dead Man as he had a bullet in his chest too.
Technique of Film:
Dead Man is projected in black and white, which by itself represents the sorrow mood of the story; furthermore it shows that all main characters in the work are white and good or black and villain, there is no gray main character in the story. In 1995 a black and white film can also considered as a dehabitualization and deconstruction after long time color motion pictures (since 1940 & 50s). Dead Man is full of violence and that’s why it got R in rating, it conveys a full sense of bitterness and fright in 19th century America.
The music of the film is outstanding; written and performed by Neil Young using an electric guitar, he did solely what the whole blacks and whites did or what had been done in whole black and white.
Figures of Play (rather than speech)
The train seems to move retroversively which might is intended to takes back the audiences to the willing time in the western territories of 19th century America. Starting in train Billy Blake understood that people in that land “speak dagger” to innocents; but as it’s a long time since Shakespeare’s Hamlet, they speak and versify in gun. From street to bed and from hate to love all should have gun “because it’s America”. Industrialization also put more wood on fire of brutality as locomotive engineer did in the starting scenes. Another notion which must be considered is tobacco, a healing herb for Indians which has been changed into a smoking grass for whites.
Dead Man talks and shows nothing but a dead value of humanity. It shows that in modern so-called civilized West even a pinto is more valuable than a man (even a white one). Jarmusch’s cinema always shows social problems and issues just as it’s observable in his other work like: Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Down by Law (1986), Mystery Train (1989), Night on Earth (1992), Coffee and Cigarettes: Somewhere in California (1993), Year of the Horse (1997) and Butterfly Man (2005).