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Contemporary Hollywood: Dead Man. (1995) - Essay Example

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Contemporary Hollywood: Dead Man. (1995)

Additionally, it has been argued that the post-colonial theory is only applicable in situations where colonialism has actually took place in a formal sense such as the African and Indian British colonies. Nevertheless, this paper seeks to prove that by the context and the activities in the background of the film as well as intertexual evidence, the film qualifies postcolonial criticism. The overt allusion to Blake is popularly considered as the main inspiration for the film; however, it is assumed that Jarmusch tried to depict the American frontier through Blake’s poetry and his allusions to Dante. However, this essay will contend this claim and take the converse position that Jarmusch tried to render Blake using the western frontier region as his canvas thus necessitating. The extreme desperation, barbarism and evil, which bear a close resemblance but should by no means, are used as grounds to make universal judgment on the moral situation of the frontier region in the film’s time setting.
Synopsis
The plot revolves around the last few days of the life of William Blake (Johnny Depp), an accountant who rides a train from Ohio to Machine a frontier town where he had been promised a job in the metalwork factory. His parents had just died and dressed in an old-fashioned checked suit, he makes his way into the frontier tracing the footsteps of so many before him in an attempt to find and start a new life in the land of opportunity. The director provides foreshadow of the ill fate that eventually follows Blake around through the warning the trains fire-fighter gives Blake about the enterprise. In the long uncomfortable train ride, Blake is introduced to a new world of the frontier, which he finds quite shocking and is startled in his naivety by passengers engaging in government sanctioned shooting of buffaloes from the train window. When he arrives at Machine, he realizes that his job had been given to someone else and reacts angrily since he had spent all his money to get there. However, the man who had been his employer to be Jonny Dickson (Robert Mitchum) drives him away from the factory at gunpoint disregarding his protest. Thus, in a new town without money or any prospects for posterity, he meets up with the Thel Russell (Mili Avital) a prostitute turned paper flower seller and they end up at her place consummating their new found friendship. However, her former lover Charlie (Gabriel Bryant) catches them in bed and in a range tries to shoot him but only wounds him, albeit fatally and kills the girl who had thrown herself over him. Blake kills the aggressor and climbs out of the window in a daze, steals a horse and hares out of town, the dead man happens to be Dickson’s son enraged at his death, he hires three brutal killers to hunt down Blake and bring him back dead or alive. Like most of Jarmusch’s work, Dead Man is a decidedly unconventional narrative, it is characterized by several acts of random violence and as he flees, he runs into Nobody, an outcast Indian American who is obsessed with the apocalyptic poet William Blake and mistakenly assumes Blake is his reincarnation (Nieland, 2001). The Indian attempts to remove the bullet from Blake’s chest but says it is too close to the heart and to be removed and in essence, Blake was from the time of the first gunfight a dead man walking. For the most part, the film follows their progressively phantasmagoric westward odyssey through the frontier wilderness dodging death at every step pursued by a host of foes particularly the cannibalistic ...Show more
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Summary

A lot of debate has gone into whether the film can rightly be studied from a post-colonial theoretical framework; opposition has predominately been based on claims that the framework would be too extensive and vague to sufficiently capture a theoretically profound examination of the film. …
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