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Film: Dead Man
Sunday, October 12, 2008 - 3:00pm
Director Jim Jarmusch's first and only undertaking of the western genre is a stunning achievement. Johnny Depp plays William Blake, who ventures westward by train to the dystopian town of Machine in search of work. While there, he meets Thel (Mili Avital), whose boyfriend (Gabriel Bryne) catches them in bed. The violence that ensues causes Blake to scramble across the wilderness with a bullet in his chest. Pursued by savage bounty hunters, his journey is an extended death scenehe avoids one meeting with mortality before encountering another. Blake encounters a world of danger and decay rather than promise and freedomthe significance of Jarmusch's particular brand of hellishness is important. In 1893 (exactly a century after Blake the poet printed his America a Prophecy) the historian Frederick Jackson Turner advanced a tremendous and controversial thesis about American history. Its essential thrust was this: America's frontier was a vital factor in its national character, and that the frontier had run out. (This offered a historical context for the United States's swift and subsequent interventions into the Philippines, Central America, and the Caribbean during the turn of the century.) Dead Man suggests that the American West was indeed vital, but was a place of death rather than growth. Instead of an optimistic assessment of virgin land and opportunity, the film presents the spread of what one might call "white blight," the viral meanness and ignorance spread by European industrialism onto the lands of the lands of the indigenous tribes. That Jarmusch respects but thankfully falls short of romanticizing his Native American characters is one of Dead Man's more singular points of interest, not to mention its dazzling cast and an unforgettable ending.

--- Slant Magazine

Dead Man (1996 Jim Jarmusch)
35mm Film
121 mins
October 10th & 11th at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm, October 12th @ 3 pm
5th Ave Cinema, 510 SW Hall St. @ PSU
Free for PSU Students, Faculty and Staff with ID; $2 for Other Students, Seniors and Children; $3 General Admission

For more information:
PSU Film Committee