Signalling a career turning point for Jim Jarmusch, his epic Western follows William Blake (Johnny Depp) on a physical and spiritual odyssey through America's wild frontier country with an outcast Native American named Nobody (Gary Farmer). Underpinned by Neil Young's sparse emotive score, the wry indictment of America's treatment of indigenous culture (alone) deservedly earns Dead Man the title of masterpiece.
Moving away from urban environs in favour of the wild west, Jim Jarmusch’s sixth feature boasted an all-star cast of Hollywood royalty (John Hurt, Robert Mitchum), beloved outsiders (Crispin Glover, Billy Bob Thornton) and Iggy Pop as a cross-dressing fur trader. Depp's William Blake travels from Cleveland to the small frontier town of Machine to take up roots as an accountant. He arrives to no job and before long finds himself in the arms of a woman, the wrong end of a gun and on the run from a series of bounty hunters.
Winner of numerous awards, Dead Man offered audiences a darker vision of America than Jarmusch’s previous films.
“The story invited me to have a lot of other themes that exist peripherally: violence, guns, American history, a sense of place, spirituality, William Blake and poetry, fame, outlaw status – all these things that are certainly part of the fabric of the film.” He continues, “I recently came across this interesting Sam Peckinpah quote: 'The Western is a universal form within which it’s possible to comment on today.' Of course, I only saw this quote after I made the film”.
Boasting Neil Young’s immersive score and Robby Muller’s stunning black-and-white photography, Dead Man is an unmissable big screen experience.