Sunday, August 4, 2019
The Movie Dead Man and its Departure from the Western Genre :: Movie Film Essays
The Movie Dead Man and its Departure from the Western Genre Put simply, genres are not created by directors so much as they are by audiences. Once it is apparent that something has been received well by theatre-goers, a formula is developed and henceforth followed to achieve the same success. Considering the Western genre, as presented by Robert Warshow, one may note whisky-swilling gunslingers, prostitutes alongside their madams, and arguments over poker tables in smoke filled saloons resulting in someone being thrown through the glass window. The hero of the Western, personified so well by Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Clint Eastwood, draws his six-shooter fast and is lethally accurate. Unfortunately, these audience-drawing regularities which, while entertaining, undermine the historical representation of how AmericaÃ¢â¬â¢s West was truly settled. The most jarring difference from the Western genre in Dead Man is that the hero, William Blake, does not saunter into town with a pistol on his hip, let alone know how to shoot one. He is an accountant from Cleveland, a rational man headed for an irrational world. Machine, the town which was his destination, is a menacing mill town which comments on the harsh realities of industrialization. BlakeÃ¢â¬â¢s train ride to the West is in vain, having been refused the job promised to him in a letter because he was tardy in response. There is an absence of order in town, in large part because John Dickinson, owner of the Metal Works plant the towns economy depends on, is insane, possibly parodying the ineptitude of capitalistic hierarchy. Jim JarmuschÃ¢â¬â¢s choice of William Blake as the name of his main character was not by accident. The jovial Indian Nobody is convinced that Blake is the English poet by the same name, and for good reason. Not because DeppÃ¢â¬â¢s Blake resembles the actual poet, but because William BlakeÃ¢â¬â¢s poetic themes can be recognized throughout the story. Also, JarmuschÃ¢â¬â¢s use of fade to black to separate the scenes transforms each scene into a new poem that can be read and viewed as a new development in the film. Critics consider JarmuschÃ¢â¬â¢s departure from the Western genre as a breath of fresh air. Dennis Schwartz claims Ã¢â¬Å"Jarmusch didn't falsely romanticize the Western settler and idolize him for how good he was with a gun as most films foolishly do; but, he debunked that whole Western John Ford type of patronizing liberal myth that the cowboy was doing all that violence to advance civilization, that if the Indian can be civilized he can and should live with the white man.