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4.8 out of 5 stars30
4.8 out of 5 stars
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Dead Man is a triumph of cinematography. Jim Jarmusch has created an excellent vehicle for Johnny Depp [William Blake} who is cast as an offbeat innocent drawn into a world where life is cheap and he must delve into the depths of his humanity for survival. Beautifully filmed in Monochome which adds to the atmosphere and enriches the characters and scenic landscape of the old west. Cameo performances from Robert Mitchum, Iggy Pop etc. add the mood and strangeness of this film. Gary Farmer [Nobody], excellent as the indian who befriends Depp and leads him towards his final destiny. The final poignant scenes are both visually beautiful and moving aided by a wonderfully haunting soundtrack by Neil Young which will live long in the memory after the film is over. Depp fans will love this as he is at his best and will watch this one again and again. Highly recommended. B Lynch.
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on 25 September 2001
The critics who panned this film obviously missed the point. They label 'Dead Man' a "revisionist
counter culture western," which deconstructs the genre, reminiscent of some of the more eccentric westerns of the 1970's. Perhaps they feel justified in their role if they can put something into a box and then criticise it for not fitting into the contraints they themselves have placed it in?
This film is simply about the journey - actual and spiritual, of Johnny Depp's character who is changed forever by the people he meets on the way.
Ultimately though, the film is about death. Death of innocence, death of identity, and finally, bodily death. Shot entirely in monochrome, with a poignant soundtrack by Neil Young, there are some great cameo appearances throughout and some superb acting, as ever, by Michael Wincott as Conway Twill.
If you don't bring any pretensions to this movie, you will not come away disappointed. It proves that sometimes, the simplest concepts are beautiful because they are simple, and that sometimes, stories don't need to be told for any other reason than to be enjoyed.
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This is one of the most unique pieces of cinema I've ever had the pleasure on encountering. It is not dream 'like', it is as near you can get to dreaming without being asleep. And what a dream. Beautiful and haunting but brutal, insane but real. The William Blake reference is not just used to stick on some mystical aphorisms - Johnny Depps character could come straight from a Blake prophetic book, and big themes such as body and soul, when life begins and ends, innocence and experience sit on your shoulder - whilst you are engrossed and entertained by the wit, strangeness and vision before you.
I've never felt closer to a truly different world-view than in this film - it shows the european savages for what they are. And the blakean visionary view and the American native sense of of place in the universe somehow become the same thing. Do not underestimate this - it's not flippant or tricksy, or deliberately weird or cult, it is a detailed, visionary, brilliant work of art.
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on 9 April 2002
Ignore the critics review, to call this film a disappointment is to have missed the point. The first time I saw it, I too thought it a disappointment but then I happened upon it again some time later and saw it in a completely different light.
The film is a slightly surreal yet deeply atmospheric look at innocence and experience (get the references to William Blakes poetry) and also takes in issues of spirituality as well as giving an alternative vision of the Western frontier. Gary Farmer is marvellous as 'Nobody' and Johnny Depp provides his usual powerful screen presence. Great soundrack, great cameos too.
I don't think I have the words to say how brilliant this film is. Other than from from time to time a film comes along that catches your imagination and something deep within you. These are rare occasions but this is one such occassion. Dead Man really is head and shoulders above so much else.
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on 12 June 2001
Johnny Depp is a dead man. With a bullet lodged next to his heart he is unaware that his fate is sealed, however an indian who prefers to be called Nobody recognises his predicament and, mistaking him for his hero (poet William Blake), sets about helping him get back to the mystical realm where he belongs. Don't be misled on this one by reviewers who try to make out that the film is somehow a languishing turkey with a flimsy score and no plot. They haven't understood it and probably didn't even watch all the way to the end. It's no formulaic action-adventure but a well-told, thoughtful story about accepting your fate and getting on with it. The only real disappointment is Iggy Pop desperately attempting to act. But the sheer authenticity of Gary Farmer as Depp's self-appointed saviour is by itself a reason to buy this film. (He reprises the role as a cameo in 'Ghost Dog'). A great moment in cinema. Buy it, Watch it, Love it.
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on 11 November 2004
Having read many reviews, clearly this is a film you either love or loath. Personaly I love it, this is my fourth copy, the others got borrowed! I wanted to add as people appear to have missed the point that there is a very humorous theme to the film. It exploits different film genres, from the 1960's parody of the British northern working class 'James Mason', Blakes arrival at the 'factory' is magical, through to Monty Python. This was never ever a serious film, though it is haunting and hypnotic in places, and how can anyone get bored with that Neil Young soundtrack, which he played live whilst watching the film. It is post modern, post modernism, turn the lights down low, open a few beers, chill and enjoy it for what it is, see it again and you will alomost be watching a different film, and enjoy the parody, it can be hilarious!
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on 4 December 2004
If you have a smidgen of patience and can adjust the window holywood have plonked in front of you then you might realise this to be the missing link between cinema and the waking dream. A dying american genre built on lies and deception is revisited by William Blake the english poet and visionary. White cowboys are the merciless bounty hunters and savages we always thought they should be, destroying all in their path in the name of progress and an Indian called Nobody finally delivers a cinematic conversion of something closer to the Native indian culture than we may have ever seen before in a western.
This film is beautifully black and white, filmed in soft installments, seperated by rythmic fades into darkness like a dream. The soundtrack accompanies perfectly as Neil young, improvising with raw electric guitar transports you from beginning to end through the desolate plains of Americas haunted past.
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on 15 August 2005
What a fantastic film!!! The opening sequence is magnificent with the long train journey which enables you to truly sense the distance travelled by the changing passengers on board. William Blake "fits in" to begin with, gradually turning into a very obvious "outsider"...very cleverly done. If all you are interested is action action action and can't cope with silence in a film, you probably won't enjoy this ... there is action aplenty in places, but it's more a comment on the character's changing fortune and personality than a gratuitous need to blow people away. The crux of the film, for me, is in the ultimate message that if you tell someone they ARE something for long enough...they become it. In addition to this, it points out how we are shaped by our personal experiences and circumstances. Now think of all the people we write off socially as useless or stupid and watch this.
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on 6 April 2000
Jim Jarmusch directs maverick oddball character actor Johnny Depp in this elegiac "modern" western. Putting in a beautifully restrained performance, Depp plays an accountant turned outlawed gunslinger after he is forced to kill a man in self defence. Befriending an unusual native American on his journey into the Badlands of the old West, he is led through a bizarre series of vivd, often moving encounters, culminating in the poignant finale. Fantastic support is provided by a host of cameo actors as wildly eccentric characters dotted throughout the landscape. Majestically shot in monochrome and accompanied by the mesmerising guitarwork of Blues supremo Neil Young, the film is a contemporary re-working of the classic themes of the Westerns of the 60`s and 70`s. Unmissable.
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on 31 July 2005
Believe the Amazon review at your peril...This is one of the most overlooked films of Depps' career and in my opinion one of his best performances. A great film with slick cinematography and one of the best soundtracks ever recorded. Not to be missed
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