Jim Jarmusch Poster


Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Family (2)  | Trade Mark (11)  | Trivia (25)  | Personal Quotes (24)

Overview (3)

Born in Akron, Ohio, USA
Birth NameJames R. Jarmusch
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Moved to New York City at the age of seventeen from Akron, Ohio. Graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in English, class of '75. Without any prior film experience, he was accepted into the Tisch School of the Arts, New York.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: J. Pae

Jarmusch came to New York City from Akron, Ohio to study at Columbia and NYU's film school. He would also study film at the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris. He worked as an assistant on Lightning Over Water (1980), a film by Nicholas Ray and Wim Wenders, before making his first film, _Permanent Vacation (1982)_, made for roughly $15,000. After much hustling, he found a German producer by the name of Otto Grokenberger, who stayed out of his way and provided him with complete artistic control. The result was the highly stimulating Stranger Than Paradise (1984), a film he structured around Screamin' Jay Hawkins' song, "I Put A Spell On You", and which would go on to win the Camera D'Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ari Grief <agrief@yorku.ca>

Family (2)

Parents Ruth Elizabeth
Robert Thomas Jarmusch
Relatives Tom Jarmusch (sibling)
Ann Jarmusch (sibling)

Trade Mark (11)

Stationary camera (deadpan). His films often involve travlers as well as life after midnight. Shows and views the American landscape from a non-commercial viewpoint (e.g. the tavern were everybody knows your name instead of franchised stripmalls)
Often casts musicians as actors in his films
Salt & pepper hair
The narrative structure of his films mostly lack clear plot progression and focus more on mood and character development
Offscreen distant train whistle
Sense of place/historical figures from movie's location
Frequently casts Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, and John Lurie
Almost every Jarmusch film centers around two or more characters from very different backgrounds (race, nationality, language, culture, philosophy, ability/disability) and their attempts to understand each other. Examples include Down by Law (two American prison escapees hook up with a kooky Italian (Roberto Benigni), Mystery Train (Japanese tourists navigate Memphis, a cultured and well-off Italian woman shares a hotel room with a poor white American woman), Dead Man (a meek accountant from Cleveland ends up traveling through the Old West with a Native American named Nobody), and Ghost Dog (a black Samurai works for an Italian Mobster and is best friends with a Haitian ice cream vendor). Even interactions between differently abled people can be seen, as in Night on Earth, when an African immigrant picks up a blind French woman in his cab and proceeds to ask her questions about her blindness. Intercultural interactions form the basis of many of the plots of Jarmusch's films.
Most of Jarmusch's films are set in decaying American Landscapes (Stranger Than Paradise in Cleveland, Mystery Train in Memphis, Only Lovers Left Alive in Detroit, Ghost Dog in New Jersey). Even when his movies move to more "scenic" places like the American West (Dead Man) or Florida (Stranger Than Paradise), Jarmusch finds bleak wastelands in these places instead of any conventionally photogenic spots.
None of Jarmusch's films have big orchestral scores. Instead, the music in his movies is produced by modern musicians like Tom Waits (Night on Earth), John Lurie (Mystery Train), Neil Young (Dead Man), RZA (Ghost Dog) and his own band Sqürl (Only Lovers Left Alive).
Many of Jarmusch's films pay tribute to literature and writers. Dead Man (through a case of mistaken identity--Johnny Depp's character is named William Blake) incorporates the prophetic poetry of the great English Poet. Christopher Marlowe is a character in "Only Lovers Left Alive" (he is a vampire who has been alive for centuries) and the film credits him with writing most of the work attributed to William Shakespeare. Ghost Dog celebrates not only Hagakure (The Book of the Samurai) but also Rashomon by Ryunosuke Akutagawa and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Paterson includes a poem by William Carlos Williams (whose book also entitled "Paterson" is seen in some scenes in the movie).

Trivia (25)

On Feb. 2, 1994, Jarmusch appeared for an interview before an audience on the first night of a retrospective of his films held by the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis, MN.
Chris Parker, who starred in Jarmusch's first film Permanent Vacation (1980) was a friend of Jarmusch's and had never acted before (according to a 2/2/94 interview with Jarmusch). When Jarmusch submitted "Permanent Vacation" to Tisch as his film thesis/project, they wouldn't accept it - apparently, they didn't think it was worth their time.
Is the older brother of Ann and Tom Jarmusch.
Good friend of Aki Kaurismäki, Finnish director of The Man Without a Past (2002). Placed the final segment of his movie Night on Earth (1991) in Finland with the three characters speaking Finnish.
Up until 2005, has never made a film under a studio's watch.
Attended Columbia University.
Once almost died from eating wild mushrooms, which resulted in an interest in the study of mushroom.
Doesn't allow his movies to be dubbed for foreign movie markets. They are mostly shown with subtitles in other countries. His only films that were dubbed are Down by Law (1986) which was dubbed in French and The Dead Don't Die (2019) which was dubbed in French and Spanish.
He owns the negatives to all his own films, except one, Year of the Horse (1997), which he made for Neil Young.
Father worked at the Goodrich tire plant in Akron, Ohio. Mother reviewed films for the Akron Beacon Journal.
Although Broken Flowers (2005) came out after Lost in Translation (2003), Jarmusch wrote the script exclusively for Bill Murray before Sofia Coppola.
Has lived with his girlfriend, filmmaker Sara Driver, for 20 years. [2005]
At college one of his professors was cult director Nicholas Ray. They formed a friendship and Jarmusch became his assistant for the making of a film.
Founder member of "the Sons of Lee Marvin". Other members include Tom Waits, Thurston Moore, John Lurie, Nick Cave. Membership requires a plausible likeness to Lee Marvin such that you could be rumored to be his son.
Guest with Johnny Depp of Belgrade Film Festival FEST in 1992.
According to Roger Ebert, 'there is a deep embedding of comedy, nostalgia, shabby sadness and visual beauty' in his work.
Likes seeing his films once, with a paying audience that doesn't know he is there, after that he doesn't want to see them ever again.
Is a founding member of The Sons of Lee Marvin, a humorous "semi-secret society" of artists resembling the iconic actor.
Often described as the archetypal auteur of American independent film.
Stopped drinking coffee in 1986, the year of the first installment of Coffee and Cigarettes, though he continues to smoke cigarettes.
Is a member of rock band SQÜRL with film associate Carter Logan and sound engineer Shane Stoneback.
Novelist Paul Auster described the characters in Jarmusch's films as "laconic, withdrawn, sorrowful mumblers".
Stated that his goal was "to approximate real time for the audience.".
He has directed one film that has been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Stranger Than Paradise (1984).
He doesn't have a personal e-mail account.

Personal Quotes (24)

I know. It's all so . . . independent. I'm so sick of that word. I reach for my revolver when I hear the word 'quirky.' Or 'edgy.' Those words are now becoming labels that are slapped on products to sell them. Anyone who makes a film that is the film they want to make, and it is not defined by marketing analysis or a commercial enterprise, is independent. My movies are kind of made by hand. They're not polished -- they're sort of built in the garage. It's more like being an artisan in some way.
I consider myself a dilettante in a positive way, and I always have. That affects my sense of filmmaking.
I feel so lucky. During the late 70's in New York, anything seemed possible. You could make a movie or a record and work part time, and you could find an apartment for 160 bucks a month. And the conversations were about ideas. No one was talking about money. It was pretty amazing. But looking back is dangerous. I don't like nostalgia. But, still, damn, it was fun. I'm glad I was there.
I prefer to be subcultural rather than mass-cultural. I'm not interested in hitting the vein of the mainstream.
I'm happiest when I'm shooting the movie. Filming is like sex. Writing the script is like seduction, then shooting is like sex because you're doing the movie with other people. Editing is like being pregnant, and then you give birth and they take your baby away. After this process is done, I will watch the movie one more time with a paying audience that doesn't know I'm there, and then I will never see it again. I'm so sick of it.
I'm stubborn. I have to fight. The studios want to be your partner in the creative process. That's why I find most of my financing overseas. I don't let the Money give me notes on my scripts. I don't allow the Money on the set. I don't allow the Money in the editing room. These days, even the little independent studios, they act like Hollywood. Some kid is making a movie for $500,000, and they want the final cut. Seems like the squares are taking over everything.
I never talk to actors as a group. Only one at a time. I talk to them about being their characters. Never, ever, about the meaning of the scene. I don't want the actors overladen with research, so they grow stale.
Aw, man, is that the only adjective they know? It's like every time I make a goddamn movie, the word "quirky" is hauled out in the American reviews. Now I see it's being applied to Wes Anderson, too. All of a sudden, his films are quirky. And Sofia Coppola is quirky. It's just so goddamn lazy.
I am interested in the non-dramatic moments in life. I'm not at all attracted to making films that are about drama. A few years back, I saw a biopic about a famous American abstract expressionist artist. And you know what? It really horrified me. All they did was reduce his life to the big dramatic moments you could pick out of any biography. If that's supposed to be a portrait of somebody, I just don't get it. It's so reductive. It just seems all wrong to me.
It's great that the audience have their own different takes on what they have just seen, and don't know all the answers. Often, I don't know all the answers either.
The beauty of life is in small details, not in big events.
Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don't bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: "It's not where you take things from - it's where you take them to."
I have no desire to make films for any kind of specific audience. What I want to do is make films that... tell stories, but somehow in an new way, not in a predictable form, not in the usual manipulative way that films seem to on their audiences.
[on working with Tilda Swinton] She's just one of the most fantastic people I know. She is full of creativity, she's open, she's incredibly knowledgeable about so many things. She's like the bohemian goddess of our lifetime.
[on his approach to cinema] When you make these films they do walk on their own after a certain point. Often, when I'm writing dialogue in a script, whatever's on paper for me is a sketch until you film it. It's not like I'm making them say words. I feel like I'm just transcribing what they're saying.
I've always been drawn to outsider types of characters, so what more perfect shadowy inhabitants of the margins there than vampires?
Robby Müller, I learned so much from this man about filmmaking, about a lot of things, about life in general and about light and about recording things and about capturing things in-the-moment and about trusting instincts. Robby and I had a really wonderful way of working: No storyboard, a shot list only if really necessary for ourselves. I still don't like making a shot list each day when I'm working. Robby's idea is about instincts, trusting your instinct and your intuition and Robby would always say things like: 'Of course we can plan everything in advance and when we go to that location it's a different time of day, the light is different, the clouds are different, so why would we cling to the idea we had previously? We must always be on our feet. Think on your feet.' And we did a lot of interesting things while scouting for this film together which was: We find the most dramatic, incredibly beautiful landscape you could imagine and then we would turn our backs on it and film the other way. [audience laughs] That was something that Robby said: 'Look how magnificent this is, we've seen it in a fucking calender! Let's look over there, it's a small tree and a rock, very sad and emotional, you know?' [audience laughs] So we would film that instead. And this is just one example of the kind of way that Robby thinks. And I learned so much from him, thinking that way. Don't look for the obvious, always keep your eyes open , keep thinking on your feet. Shooting a film is a process and you can't control everything in the process, so be open. Another thing Robby taught me was: O.K., you're shooting a scene outside and suddenly it starts raining. And most crews would say: 'Well, the scene doesn't take place in the rain, so let's pack up and we'll have to stop for today'. And Robby would be: 'I wonder what it would be like, if the scene's in the rain. Maybe it's much better'. Or if we already shot some of it: 'O.K. think of some dialogue where they say it's about the rain, you know?' Like, keep thinking, keep thinking, don't be set in your script. It's something that came from Nicholas Ray, who said: 'If you just gonna shoot the script then why bother?' And that's something Robby also instilled in me. Robby Müller is a kind of brilliant man who's a very rebellious teenager in part of his spirit and yet an incredibly technically gifted person.[Lincoln Center, April 2014]
I am attracted to non-dramatic moments in life.
[on the the funniest criticism he's ever had] My favorite? I'll translate it from the French. It was from a right-wing newspaper in the South of France about my movie Down by Law, which said, "Jim Jarmusch is celebrated by the French intelligentsia in a way that's reminiscent of deaf and dumb parents applauding their retarded child. He is 33 years old. This is the age that Christ was crucified on the cross. We can only hope for the same for the future of his film career." Woah! I used to carry that one around in my wallet.
[on Paterson] In the film I wanted to make this little structure to be a metaphor for life, that every day is a variation on the day before or the day coming up. They're just variations.
...the beauty of a movie is that you walk in, you don't know anything about it, you enter a world that's new to you, and that's the magic of being transported. If you make a film, that magic is not there, because you were there while shooting it. After writing a film and shooting it and being in the editing room every day, you can never see it clearly. I think other people's perception of your film is more valid than your own, because they have that ability to see it for the first time.
[on aging] Gee. I don't know. I don't know how to even answer that. It was funny: I was getting in the car two days ago in New York to go to the airport, and there was a lot of traffic so we couldn't go on the highway. The driver wanted to go through the back streets of Brooklyn and Queens and it was a Saturday afternoon, a very beautiful day. And I'm riding there and possibly going to be late and I didn't worry. I don't know why. And I was just watching people doing little things - a guy fixing his door, little kids chasing a ball and adults chasing children that were laughing, people that were going shopping, a couple arguing on a corner - and I just felt like, sometimes, the world is perfect just because this is what it is. Maybe I wouldn't have felt exactly that same thing some years ago.
You see, I start with actors that I want to make a character for. Then I collect a whole lot of details and then I sit down with them and make a connect the dots drawing out of them; see what for of picture it is becoming. I don't know what the story is or where it's going, at all. I just sort of jump in and start. In fact, I think I do it backwards. Most people have a story idea and in the end they cast it, but I start with the actors first.
[on being asked about time distorting in many of his films] I often think of time as being a very strange arbitrary kind of yardstick that we've survived, that seems very primitive. There's a dimension that we don't quite get and yet we strap these little machines on our wrist and we still don't quite have it figured out because we have these adjustments we have to make twice a year. We move the clocks forward or back. I find it kind of amusing that we have quite a primitive understanding of time, I think.

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