Dead Man Jim Jarmusch

Dead Man Jim Jarmusch
It's fitting that Jim Jarmusch's most commercial, on the surface, film – a western starring Johnny Depp, with music by Neil Young – is also his most allegorical and divisive. The movie opens with accountant William Blake (Depp) on a train to the company town Machine to take a position at the metal works. Once there, he discovers the job already filled and quickly runs afoul of company owner John Dickinson (Robert Mitchum). Broke and out of options, Blake seeks solace in the arms of a woman, who unbeknownst to him is Dickinson's daughter. Her jealous husband discovers them, kills his wife and mortally wounds Blake, who in turn shoots the husband dead. Branded a murderer, and with a bullet lodged in his chest, he's taken under the wing of a Native American, Nobody (Gary Farmer), as Dickinson's men pursue them through the Wild West. A surprisingly earnest film for Jarmusch, much of its narrative is up for interpretation from the viewer. Is Blake already dead or simply travelling a path to death? It's no wonder critics remain so divided. Jarmusch was mum on the subject when the film was first released in 1995 and remains so with this Blu-Ray release, which features deleted and extended scenes (which, unlike the film, have not been cleaned up for hi-def viewing), but no director's commentary. Young's solo guitar soundtrack, which bears many of the sonic hallmarks of his recently acclaimed Le Noise, is at once haunting and intrusive, perfectly setting the tone in some scenes while taking viewers out of the film in others. Despite its divisive nature, Dead Man has to be seen at least once. Even the film's most ardent detractors have to admit that there's a great deal going on in the film; Jarmusch was clearly getting at something and it's up to us to decide what. (Alliance)