Monday, January 5, 2009

Dead Man (1995)

Dead Man is a 1995 film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. The movie is something of a Modern Western, dubbed a "psychedelic Western" by director Jarmusch, which includes twisted elements of the Western Genre. The film is shot entirely in black-and-white. Some consider it the ultimate postmodern Western, and related to postmodern literature such as Cormac McCarthy's novel, Blood Meridian. The decision to make this movie in black and white is quite brilliant. First of all, it adds a dream quality to the story (most people dream in black and white) - a color of memory or hallucination, or rather a color of something forgotten. Secondly, B&W film creates perception of being in Hell and may symbolize fight of light and darkness, good and evil. Thirdly, it may be interpreted as color of print on paper - like in graphic novels. Sin City used the same device. And finally, judging by the “special effects” used in the early movies, the director wanted to create a feeling of a movie actually made in 1920s. The dialogs, on the other hand, are quite contemporary. The electric guitar theme helps to establish this connection of time. The movie is extremely slow - a technique used by masters like Andrei Tarkovski to make viewers focus on one aspect of a scene. Like Tarkovski’s movies, Dead Man if full of metaphor and symbolism. At the same time, subtle actions of characters or something they say, even if a single word, tell a story of their own - very thoughtful movie. The story grasps you and never lets go. The film won Palm d’Or at 1995 Cannes Film Festival and New York Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography in 1996.

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"It is preferable not to travel with a dead man" - Henri Michaux

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