By Tim Lucia
Personally, I have always found Jim Jarmusch a pinch overrated, but Dead Man is his magnum opus. Beautifully shot on black and white film stock, it chronicles one man’s poetic, spiritual, and physical journey across a western landscape. The all-star cast includes Johnny Depp, Robert Mitchum, John Hurt, Crispin Glover, Lance Henriksen, Michael Wincott, Iggy Pop, Billy Bob Thornton, Jared Harris, and Gabriel Byrne. William Blake (Depp) arrives in the town of Machine, CA, to start his new job as an accountant at the local factory. The angry owner, John Dickinson (Mitchum), wants nothing to do with him. Blake hooks up with a beautiful young woman (Mili Avital) but immediately after, her jealous lover (Byrne) enters, killing her; Blake kills him in defense. Blake then high-tails it out of town on Dickinson’s horse. Turns out the jealous lover was Dickinson’s son, and he sends a trio of outlaws after Blake. Blake soon meets up with a mysterious Native American named ‘Nobody’ (Gary Farmer), and the two begin their spiritual journey as outlaws across the west. Dead Man is Jarmuch’s best film (in my opinion) and pushes the boundaries of the western genre to create wholly original film. Neil Young’s blistering, hard-edged score compliments the film perfectly. A must-see for any fan of westerns or independent film.