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Dead Man Criterion Blu-ray Review

Dead Man.jpg

“Dead Man” is a western of a different sort.

Writer, director and indie darling Jim Jarmusch made his most ambitious and big budget film way back in 1995 with the poetic western “Dead Man.” The story revolves around a fancy accountant named William Blake who is traveling to the town of Machine having been promised work there at the Dickinson Metal Works. Upon arrival, he learns that the position has already been filled. Matters become even worse for William when he kills a man (Charlie) who shot him and killed a prostitute. William flees into the wild where he encounters a Native American man who calls himself Nobody. Back in Machine, Dickinson puts a bounty out on William as it turns out Charlie was actually his son. As a result of this, a whole host of killers and lawmen set out after William. As for William and Nobody, they set out on a spiritual quest together which I won’t reveal out of respect for those who have yet to see it.

For those expecting a traditional western film or a standard Hollywood narrative film, “Dead Man” is not it. Much like other works by Jim Jarmusch, “Dead Man” is, well, a Jim Jarmusch film. He has his own style, pace, and specific type of storytelling that isn’t really comparable to anything else. Personally, I’ve always been drawn to his work but I recognize his films are certainly not for everyone and may be considered dull to others. Anyway, with “Dead Man,” Jarmusch made what is arguably his most cinematic and visual film about life, death, violence, and spirituality. It’s a poetic journey film filled with eccentric characters, dark violence, symbolism, deep meaning, and even touching moments. Even though it is a western, don’t expect to see a lot of action here. As always, Jarmusch focuses on character and themes more than anything else.

The film has a huge cast that contains the likes of Johnny Depp, Michael Wincott, Mili Avital, Lance Henriksen, Robert Mitchum, Iggy Pop, Crispin Glover, Jared Harris, Billy Bob Thornton, Gabriel Byrne, John Hurt, Alfred Molina and Gary Farmer. Obviously, all of their parts vary in size, but everyone makes an impression here. The real stand-outs are Gary Farmer (who steals the show as Nobody), Michael Wincott (who plays a blabbermouth bounty hunter named Conway), and Lance Henriksen as the crazed murderous Cole.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? This disc boasts a stunning B&W 4K digital restoration. I was truly impressed by the clarity of the image having seen some mediocre prints of the film on various media over the years.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? Neil Young’s haunting score has never sounded better on film. The rest of the audio is crisp as well.

Extras: * A booklet featuring credits, photos, and essays by writer Amy Taubin and author Ben Ratliff * “Dead Man” trailer * 15 minutes of deleted scenes * “Black And White In Color”- A photo gallery * “Neil Young”- Footage of Neil Young composing the score along with a music video. * “Reading Blake”- Audio recordings of Iggy Pop, Mili Avital and Alfred Molina reading William Blake poems over location scouting photographs. * An insightful new 26 minute interview with Gary Farmer who talks about Jim Jarmusch, “Powwow Highway,” culture, the production of “Dead Man,” and more. * An audio “Q&A With Jim”- Jim Jarmusch answers fan questions that were submitted to Criterion for 47 minutes. The Q&A gets fairly deep as Jarmusch talks about everything from western cinema to personal interests. There’s even some questions from celebrities. * Commentary by sound mixer Drew Kunin and production designer Bob Ziembicki. It’s not the most exciting track but there’s some solid behind-the-scenes info here.

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April 22, 2018 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , ,

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