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Dead Man (1995)

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On the run after murdering a man, accountant William Blake encounters a strange Native American man named Nobody who prepares him for his journey into the spiritual world.

Director:

Jim Jarmusch

Writer:

Jim Jarmusch
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4,371 ( 144)
5 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Johnny Depp ... William Blake
Gary Farmer ... Nobody
Crispin Glover ... Train Fireman
Lance Henriksen ... Cole Wilson
Michael Wincott ... Conway Twill
Eugene Byrd ... Johnny 'The Kid' Pickett
John Hurt ... John Scholfield
Robert Mitchum ... John Dickinson
Iggy Pop ... Salvatore 'Sally' Jenko
Gabriel Byrne ... Charlie Dickinson
Jared Harris ... Benmont Tench
Mili Avital ... Thel Russell
Jimmie Ray Weeks ... Marvin, Older Marshal
Mark Bringelson ... Lee, Younger Marshal
John North ... Mr. Olafsen
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Storyline

This is the story of a young man's journey, both physically and spiritually, into very unfamiliar terrain. William Blake travels to the extreme western frontiers of America sometime in the second half of the nineteenth century. Lost and badly wounded, he encounters a very odd, outcast Native American named "Nobody", who believes Blake is actually the dead English poet of the same name. The story, with Nobody's help, leads William Blake through situations that are in turn comical and violent. Contrary to his nature, circumstances transform Blake into a hunted outlaw, a killer, and a man whose physical existence is slowly slipping away. Thrown into a world that is cruel and chaotic, his eyes are opened to the fragility that defines the realm of the living. It is as though he passes through the surface of a mirror, and emerges into a previously-unknown world that exists on the other side.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

No one can survive becoming a legend. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Western

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for moments of strong violence, a graphic sex scene and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA | Germany | Japan

Language:

English | Cree

Release Date:

10 May 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$104,649, 12 May 1996

Gross USA:

$1,037,847

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,037,847
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby SR

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gary Farmer reprised his role as Nobody in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999). See more »

Goofs

After William Blake and Nobody walk down to the trading post tent, William takes off his hat and is holding it in his right hand. When the camera angle changes, he is holding it in his left hand. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Train Fireman: Look out the window. And doesn't this remind you of when you were in the boat, and then later than night, you were lying, looking up at the ceiling, and the water in your head was not dissimilar from the landscape, and you think to yourself, "Why is it that the landscape is moving, but the boat is still?"
See more »

Crazy Credits

This Film is Dedicated to the Memory of Dick Peiffer and Paul D. O'Brien See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Iron Giant (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Billy Boy
Played in the saloon
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Effortlessly cool and self-styled western
10 March 2005 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

Dead Man is a unique piece of film. As this is my first taste of Jim Jarmusch, I had no idea of what to expect, but even if I had; I reckon that this film wouldn't have conformed to them. Dead Man is a surreal and trippy western that peels itself away from the staples of the genre and succeeds in creating something truly one-off and self-styled. Lead by a score written by Neil Young, Dead Man is continually satisfying and powerful; and you get the impression that every scene has been fully thought through, and is perfectly realised as the auteur intended. For this reason, Dead Man captivates it's viewer from the moment it starts until the moment it ends, and as it descends into full blown trippy weirdness, you can do nothing but stare in admiration of this strange gem of cult cinema. The plot is thin on the ground and it largely lacks meaning, but it doesn't matter because Dead Man is a purely aesthetic experience. Still, it follows William Blake (Johnny Depp), an accountant from Cleveland that arrives in a town to take a job offer, only to find that the vacancy has already been filled…

Dead Man is filmed in very stark black and white, which only adds to the surrealism of the story. Had this film have been done in colour, it would not have captured the same atmosphere that the black and white gives it; and so this decision was an inspired one indeed. One staple of the western genre that Jarmusch is keen to retain is the use of close-ups. The director spends a lot of time caressing Depp's facial features with his camera and, at times, even focuses on his lead actor when the action doesn't concern him. Aside from keeping in with the western tradition, this also allows Jarmusch to keep the focus on the main character, which keeps the viewer focused on his plight. For this film, Jarmusch has put together a cast of B-movie icons that will have B-movie fans foaming at the mouth. Crispin Glover, Robert Mitchum, Billy Bob Thornton, Lance Henriksen, Gabriel Byrne, John Hurt, Alfred Molina and even Iggy Pop feature and it's great to see so many faces in the same movie. The cast is, of course, lead by a man who is perhaps today's best actor; Johnny Depp. Depp's name on a credit list speaks for itself, and I don't need to tell you that his performance is great; nor do I need to point out the effortless cool that this movie exudes, largely thanks to the great man's presence. My only advice is see it...see it now.


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