director Jim Jarmusch
Dead Man is 21 years old. It’s been one of my favorite films for that number of years, and it has aged well. Or not aged at all. Though actually it had been at least 15 years since I last saw it.
Dead Man isn’t so much an acid trip as it is a grueling death trip. Jim Jarmusch’s version of the Old West is as bleak a vision as ever portrayed in the Western genre. It’s no place for a gentle soul. Death and violence can erupt suddenly or numbingly slowly as the lead from a bullet leeches into your heart.
The spirituality of the native peoples can appeal to your fading senses, or not make any sense at all. Not that anything really has any sense or meaning in this brutal, brief life. All moments of comedy are black as soot and even your one friend in the world is eliminated by the world’s most heartless and ruthless in a moment of cruel reciprocation. The harsh strains of Neil Young’s guitar wail and punctuate these passing scenes.
I’d long considered showing Dead Man to my kids (it’s essentially sat in a mental queue of films I want to watch with them). I was very pleased to find that both of them really liked it, more so than I would have anticipated (I’m not always good at predicting these things.) Still, very satisfying to my paternal cinéaste curation/education side.