View Full Version : Film: Dead Man

26-01-2003, 17:06
I saw this movie last night for the first time, suffering from only the slightest touch of sleep deprivation. My, how my weird quotient was met and exceeded.

Give me your thoughts on this strange film, the message you think it conveys and other main points of the tale and the main protagonists.


[edit: fixed spacing (old thread) - 1234]

27-01-2003, 14:33
This is one of my favourite films ever.


The film is a great portrayal of a dead mans journey through to the afterlife. The engine driver at the start gives us the main clue when he says something like "This is for when you are in the boat, looking at the landscape and it appears to be moving..." sorry, can't remember the exact quote but it refers to the end of the film when we see the end of his journey. He also says "Why did you come all the way out here to hell"? There are tons of other clues in the film, which seem really obvious after seeing the film once. I always kinda though that he probably commited suicide when his fiance left him, but I guess that is pure speculation.

The boss of the factory is obviously supposed to be the devil, who is trying to take his soul at every point. I wish I knew more about religious symbolism, because the film is full of it. His spirit guide, Nobody, really makes the film. I love the way he recounts the journey that he had at his death as it seems like a mirror to what Johnny Depp is going through. Does anyone know what "Goddamn religious icon" the lawman is supposed to be? I'm not really sure about that bit and it contains such random gratuitous gore that I'm sure its supposed to be important.

It deals really effectively with the Americans treatment of the native Indians too. It's quite shocking to see the men shooting the buffalo out of the train windows at the start.

Anyway, those were just my random ramblings. Sorry if it doesn't make much sense. I'm glad someone else enjoyed this film too though :)

[ 27 January 2003: Message edited by: FunkyAlfonzo ]

[edit: fixed spacing (old thread) - 1234]

28-01-2003, 04:05
Loved it. Jarmusch is one of my favorites. That film besides having a great story, was visually stunning. It's been a while since I saw it last though, so I can't give such a great commentary. Damn. I'mna have to check that out again. :)

punch e punch
30-01-2003, 14:46
Yeh, I was obsessed with this movie a few years ago.
I always thought that it leaves alot of questions unanswered and is very much open to interpretation. Is Blake an unfortunate city man falling victim to the chaos of the wild west, or is he a ghost wandering around in limbo?
I love the Nobody character. I love Neil Young's soundtrack. I love the scene with Billy Bob Thornton and Iggy Pop (wearing a dress and reading Bible stories :D ).
"What's a philestine?"
"Well, its a real dirty person." lol
Gotta see that movie again some time..

30-01-2003, 15:05
Thats whats so good about the film though. Too many films these days are straight "Here's whats going on in this film." I hate that.

punch e punch
31-01-2003, 16:26
I thought it was interesting how Nobody appears out of nowhere, when Blake is lying on the ground dying.
Then he leads Blake around for the last few days of his life, guiding him.
Then, as soon as his job is done, as he sends Blake off to die, he himself is killed immediately.
Also, the whole idea of using the name of William Blake (a famous poet) is an interesting reference.
"Every night and every morn,
some to misery are born
Every morn and every night
some are born to sweet delight.
"Some are born to sweet delight
and some are born to endless night."

01-02-2003, 09:39
Dead Man - an amazing expressionist tone poem. Loved it- one of the most original films ever. Reminded me just a little in darkness of tone of Annie Dillard's book "The Living." The incredibly anarchic quality of what the old west must have been like is summed up for me in the scene where he's walking down the street and sees the guy getting a blowjob with his gun cocked....

03-02-2003, 08:42
I also love Dead Man. I haven't watched it for a few months, but I've probably seen it 5 times. I never really caught the Christian symbolism that funkyalfonso was talking about. I'll have to take another look. I always thought it had more to do with native american spirituality. I really love how they use the poet William Blake throughout the film, though. At the time I first saw the flick, Blake was my favorite poet so it just made me love it more.

24-10-2003, 04:15
Okay, I just watched it, and after reading some of these responses, I definitely need to watch it again. The first time through I kinda fell asleep for 15 minutes since it was in such stop-start filming that bored me to no end. It got much weirder once the killings started in earnest, though.

29-11-2003, 06:46
I don't fully understand this movie.

Was he an undead zombie after being shot? Or after he got shot did it just take him ages to die, in which time he took revenge?

I was pretty stoned, but usually this isn't a problem for me understanding subtle movies....

So whats the deal?

30-11-2003, 01:26
great great movie. i dont think he was a zombie, the whole movie took place in the span of 1 day i believe. he just kept on trucking after getting shot a few times. every scene was superb.

"stupid fucking white man"

30-11-2003, 01:27
oh and i dont think he was trying to take revenge on anyone, he was just reacting to the situations placed before him

01-12-2003, 02:36
Great movie!

The way I saw it was that he is dead from the very start of the movie and the whole film is his transition to the afterlife. Listen to what the engineer says on the train. The clue is when he mentions something about it appearing that he is staying still while the sky moves above him. That refers to the end of the movie, when he has the tobacco and is lying back in the canoe.

Nobody is his spirit guide, who is also dead. I think the story he tells about him travelling to Europe is the story of his journey to the afterlife. I would say that the boss at the steelworks(?) is the devil who is sending his angels to take his soul. There is a lot of symbolism in the movie and I don't think I've grasped it all and I've seen it about 4 or 5 times now. Try watching it again with this in mind and it should make more sense. I've left out a hell of a lot, but I'm sure you'll pick it up.

PS - stoned is the best way to watch it ;)

06-12-2003, 12:04
^^^^ I'll definately have to watch it again like, i musn't have been paying much attention, i never caught onto that, stupid me

06-12-2003, 12:39
bah.. i don't think jarmusch knew what the point of that movie was.. nice and moody though.. 'ghost dog: way of the samurai' is way better..

"down by law, just like jim jarmusch,
pictures in my head just like diane august'
- bomb the bass

07-08-2004, 13:41
considering the advent of coffee and cigarettes, i suspect a few people will be seeing this again.

what a great film. i love that jarmusch totally rejects any sense of conventional narrative and instead just lets the film go whereever the characters take it. of course, that might seem a stupid thing to say since jarmusch *wrote* the film, but i just like the fact that he lets the story be dictated by his characters, not by a heavy-handed plot line.

as usual, depp is perfect too, with a mixture of bemusement and thoughtfulness. some really nice cameos too, as is typical of a jarmusch film.

07-08-2004, 14:41
This is one of my favourite films. It's pretty rare to enjoy a film so much and not to actually have it explained properly until the final scene, which is beautifully shot. I wrote a thread about it in V&PA, but that forum doesn't seem to exist to even read any more?

I think I might watch it again actually!

07-08-2004, 15:30
^^^ it looks like v&pa in any real sense is dead. at least some of the threads were archived, but most of it is gone :(

see here: http://www.bluelight.ru/vb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=130742

07-08-2004, 15:47
whatta ya know...the thread's still around. that's weird, 'cause i swear i searched. anyway, merging now :)

08-08-2004, 16:26
yep i loved this movie. depp was great as always. the way that it was shot was fantastic. im a fan of the black and white. but the main thing that got to me was the light in which the west was portrayed. so dirty, so raw, so rough, so vile, just seemed so logical and real to me. and completely *unlike* all those other squeaky clean freakn westerns.

08-08-2004, 19:04
After much suspicion, Skywise finally forced me to watch Dead Man a couple monthes ago. Deffinetly liked it, not what I expected. The beginning is a bit slow but it was essential for setting up the rest of the film. I voted 4 stars.

03-06-2005, 10:26
Originally posted by dyscotopia
bah.. i don't think jarmusch knew what the point of that movie was.. nice and moody though..

I'll agree with that.

FunkyAlfonzo's theory is really something that will make you think but to go along with dyscotopia I just don't think jarmusch has that kind of depth. Personally I think it was more of a rebirth ("did you kill the white man that killed you?") talking about the death of his old self.

I find this movie to be more of a comedy to me, the ironic situations and eccentric characters make me laugh!

03-06-2005, 15:20
poll :)

03-06-2005, 23:26
good call with the poll!!!

04-06-2005, 00:52
I use to dispise deadman (before I saw it.. don't ask why) but I was so pleasently surprised at the quality of this film! Though, I guess I knew in the back of my head that it would be good. :)

Nice soundtrack as well.

05-06-2005, 02:25
just saw this the other day, and i have to say i agree with funkyalfonso, im not sure about the angels theory, but i def caught the engineers talking about they sky and that being how the movie ended think i also def think mitchum is the devil, esp when depp is asked " do you REALLY want to see him" and the way everyone else at the office laughs when he asks if he can go into his office,its also great to see crispin glover in anything.

05-06-2005, 03:19

05-06-2005, 03:20
*bump* (then merged? maybe?)

05-06-2005, 16:17
Yay! Top film, I love it, and have seen it... maybe 6-7 times now. The whole tone of the film, especially with Neil Young's excellent soundtrack, it's just exactly the kind I like. Dirty, dark and beautifully poetic.

I don't like to try and work it out too much, although I have a few thoughts, it's best just to sit down, bottle of wine, and watch.


05-06-2005, 16:28
thank you for bumping this...i couldn't find the thread.

05-06-2005, 19:55
Haven't seen this movie yet, but I must say that it looks SPECTACULAR! I'm going to rent it tonight. Thanks guys!

07-06-2005, 09:30
Ok, update. I saw this movie last night and absolutly LOVED it! Interesting characters, shooting style, scenery, and the metaphores/symbolism ~ don't get me started! To me, it seemed like this was his voyage through limbo where he had to attone for the things he did while he was alive by reliving it. The indian character seemed to be his 'guide' through the afterlife, helping him along the way also providing useful advice.

"I see you have collected more of the white mans metal...."

I'm going to watch it again later tonight after the alcohol is flowing and perhaps i'll get a different perspective. Either way, this movie fucking ROCKS! I give it three stars. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, but as awesome as it was it still can't really compare to the movies on my FOUR star list. That is a very short list indeed and only few movies make it on there. People are two generous with their four star recommendations, IMO.

05-11-2005, 00:40
I use to dispise deadman (before I saw it.. don't ask why) but I was so pleasently surprised at the quality of this film! Though, I guess I knew in the back of my head that it would be good. :)

Nice soundtrack as well.why and how could you despise a movie you haven't seen?

This movie is high on my netflix, will post a review when I finally see it.

05-11-2005, 01:41
jim jarmusch is the man.

08-12-2005, 02:17
why and how could you despise a movie you haven't seen?

This movie is high on my netflix, will post a review when I finally see it.

I suppose I couldn't say I disliked the film out of legitimacy. It was more of a joke you see... before, skywise and I had somewhat different tastes in film/literature/ideas :D. Luckily for me, many of those differences melted away years ago.. and I grew to appreciate films he enjoyed with a renewed openness.

08-12-2005, 17:51
ah, i gets it.

well i have since seen this film and it was so incredible....i will have to watch again to discuss. definitely one to watch more than once.

09-09-2006, 22:51
Easily one of the best films I've ever seen.

It's certainly open to multiple interpretations, but from a purely narrative/technical/acting/dialogue perspective it is superb filmmaking.

Neil Young kicks ass.

15-09-2006, 08:50
I would say this film definitly ranks in my top 3 any day of the week. What I love so much about Jarmusch's films is how unconventional they are, not just for the sake of being unconventional, but for the sake of not sacrificing one bit of artistic integrity for mass appeal. He's not afraid to go just at the pace he needs to and not a frame faster for the sake of marketting the film, even though most viewers would say it's "too slow".

I remember the first time I tried to watch the film I gave up about half way through, mostly because I was in a room full of 5-10 loud, drunk people, myself included, which is not exactly the best way to watch this film. I would say since then (a little over a year ago) I have seen it at least 20 times. I absolutely love this film, and it's that rare kind of film that if I have the time, I'm almost always in the mood too watch, and I never find that it gets old or that I get tired of it, in fact, I love it more with every viewing and it seems to take my appreciation of it to a new level every time I watch.

Absolute brilliance. Unfortunately, I think with most of today's audience the way they are (used to artificially, overly fast paced, meaningless, greed inspired, sorry excuses for films) films like this will become more and more rare, until the film industry finally has another sort of 'internal revolution'. Thank god for films like this is.