Just looking at that stark Miramax logo, combined with the rough and haunted sounds of Neil Young’s score, takes me back not only to when I watched Dead Man on an almost weekly basis but to a whole exciting era of VHS film watching I experienced in the late 1990s.
I love Dead Man. While probably not the best Jim Jarmusch film (so much competition!), I have to admit it’s my favorite, far and away the one I’ve seen the most times. That score, the crazy performances and cameos, the cold cruelty and hopelessness of its setting, and all that weird but brilliant dry humor combine into a movie that just does everything right for me.
This trailer, which I’ve never actually seen before, does a great job of selling all these strengths, particularly its number one star. No, not Johnny Depp (although this film does harken back to a time when we still looked forward to Depp’s involvement in a movie), but Gary Farmer’s Nobody, the strict but not totally cold heart at the middle of Dead Man. With his interesting mixture of exasperation, frustration, and amusement at William Blake and his fellow white men, Farmer owns this film. That may not seem like much when his only real competition is a quiet, slowly dying Johnny Depp, but his character would be an all-timer in any film. He makes such an impression that Jarmusch even gave him a quick SNL-level cameo in Ghost Dog, complete with a catchphrase and everything.
Honestly, it’s been a while since I sat down and gave an afternoon to this film. Watching this trailer makes me want to rectify that as soon as possible.