Film Recommendation/Review of “Dead Man”
What a unique film is Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man…and one I recommend.
A western? Yes, but not atypical. Rather, with its accurate period detail combined with its numerous references in word and scene to the writings of William Blake (along with modern references here and there), it becomes a harsh and surrealistic journey for young accountant William Blake (Johnny Depp) from Cleveland who simply journeys west for a promised job. Little does this young man anticipate what is to come of his venture west, but it takes little time for him to encounter nearly everything alien, hostile, and outright evil.
His rescuer from his serious woes is found in Native American Exaybachay or Nobody (Gary Farmer), a man with a good heart and a deep appreciation of English poet and mystic William Blake.
For me, the journey these two share is one of beauty in the midst of human depravity. So much of this story, to me, brings to mind life today for those who naively enter into the world of man where most lie, cheat, steal, and many of whom will murder if it suits their agenda. It’s the struggle exemplified of any good spirit amongst the darkness which prevails through its rulers and its followers who validate all that those who have seized power do – regardless of how evil. It matters not the time or place, mankind is spiritually corrupt…not just a few, but the majority. If not so, then the world would not be in the state it is of so much suffering.
An example from the film illustrating this: Blake’s predicament (as you will see) would not have been so dire if not for all the many “good” or “socially acceptable” persons who with only a wanted poster to go by would choose to post, encourage pursuit, and pursue a man based solely of the words of who…? A man with a good character? No. Instead, based solely on the words of Dickinson (Robert Mitchum), a man we see from the film’s beginning most certainly has a reputation for wickedness (which his son has as well), the mass of people, for the sake of reward money, are ready to kill a man. This is entirely what we see in today’s society – blind acceptance of whatever the “authority” figure says…with such figures being anyone in government or otherwise possessing power (often financial) in today’s society. Few stop and question whether what they’re told is true. Why? Because there’s too much to gain by condoning and participating in the status quo and thus, they by apathy or by commission, exact the wishes of the “authority” regardless of who is harmed in the process.
I also so appreciated Nobody’s caring kindness bestowed upon Blake, even if provided under the misunderstanding that he was “the” William Blake. Even so, as I consider that, it means much to see one have such deep appreciation for a poet to such a degree that he would do all he does for this William Blake. I would say I appreciated his appreciation for “the” William Blake.
The detail of what is viewed in this film is impressive, languages spoken, surroundings, everything filmed, the music. The cast impressive as is their performances.
There is much poignancy, spirituality, and sadness. (The scene with Blake and the murdered fawn is one such example.)
A most different type of western, I highly recommend it. Read little about it (especially plot/scenes), just view it.
As for me, I’m off to read more William Blake.
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