(Pa, NA, FR, AB, LLL, VVV, SS, NN, D) Nihilistic worldview layered with Indian mysticism & Christian tradesman is portrayed as greedy & hypocritical; 21 obscenities, 38 profanities & 3 vulgarities; excessive violence including shoot-outs with bloodshed; on screen oral sex, brief depicted sex & sexual innuendo; brief upper female nudity & brief rear male nudity; use of peyote in Indian ritual; and, cannibalism
DEAD MAN is an intentionally dark and depressing film that follows the destruction of William Blake, played by Johnny Depp, an accountant from Cleveland who moves out West to make his fortune. Unlikely circumstances have him running from the law as he meets a slow death physically and spiritually. Photographed in black & white, the movie is a muddled look at death with excessive violence and depravity.
DEAD MAN is a dark film that follows the downfall and eventual self-destruction of a young accountant from Cleveland named William Blake. After losing both his parents, Blake takes the train out West to the town of Machine, only to find himself penniless. After a sexual encounter with a young prostitute, the prostitute’s boyfriend and son of the local mill owner shoots her and wounds Blake. In self-defense, Blake kills the boyfriend. Falsely accused of double murder with a price on his head, Blake runs as his physical and spiritual life slips away.
Filmed entirely in Black & White, the movie contains high contrasts of shadows and light. Reminiscent of film noire rife with symbolism and subtext in a Western setting, the photography does not suggest a harkening back to Westerns of the 30’s and 40’s. Blake (the character in this movie) quotes Blake the poet, “The Vision of Christ though dost see, is my vision’s greatest enemy.” This represents the symbolic theme of DEAD MAN, where Blake, the DEAD MAN, is dead by accepting Christ as his enemy instead of Savior. Thus, dead in his sins, Blake faces all forms of death: spiritual and physical. Using Indian mysticism, foul language and excessive violence, the director presents a tale of depravity and desperation.