Magazine article Newsweek

Dead Man

Magazine article Newsweek

Dead Man

Article excerpt

THOUGH NO ONE BUT JIM JARMUSCH could have made Dead Man, no one could have expected this film. The exemplar of Downtown Cool filmmaking ("Stranger Than Paradise," "Down By Law," "Mystery Train"), always gun-shy of genre, has made a Western. Needless to say, it's no ordinary Western, even though Robert Mitchum is in it (briefly) wielding a shotgun. So is Iggy Pop (briefly) wearing a homespun dress and bonnet, and Crispin Glover (briefly) acting strange. But anyone expecting an anachronistic, hipster sendup of the Old West is in for a surprise. The mordant, deadpan humor that streaks through "Dead Man" is echt Jarmusch, but it's in the service of his most mysterious and deeply felt movie, a meditation on death and transfiguration that, by the end, has thrown off the protective veil of irony.

"Dead Man" is an odyssey that takes its young hero, an accountant from Cleveland named William Blake (Johnny Depp), through hell. It will leave him, perhaps, on the portals of heaven. Hell is the pitiless, violent frontier town of Machine, where Blake has been promised an accounting job that never materializes at the Dickinson Mining Works. Instead, this timid, peaceable man finds himself wounded in a gunfight in which he kills the son of the mining-works owner (Mitchum). With a price on his head, a piece of lead near his heart and three notorious and bizarre hired guns on his trail (taciturn Lance Henrickson, talkative Michael Wincott, baby-faced Eugene Byrd), the fugitive begins his flight. …

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