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Return to Wilderness: Dead Man

The movie Dead Man by Jim Jarmush tells the story of a clerk who moves to the American West and ends up entering deeper and deeper into a land which appears to be a combination of the American Wild West and the land of the dead and of dreams. This movie, like Grizzly Man tells the quintessential modern story of a return to the wild. But it tells it in a way that transgresses, not only the traditional narratives of Western conquest but also most of the tales that depict the evils of civilization and a happy return to nature – or, on the other side, those who depict the evils of nature and the attraction of progress.After describing what you believe to be the gist of the story, give a reading of the film by considering how it subverts (or concurs with) what we have seen as the traditional definitions of nature and civilization. Pay attention to the changing (and somewhat discreet) presence of animals in the film and show what role they play in different part of the movies.This is a strange movie that may seem a bit opaque at first. Watch it several time and let yourself be taken by its slowness and trance-like atmosphere. It does become more accessible that way.After the papers are corrected we will have a discussion based on all your interpretations.GuidelinesThe paper should be 5 pages or a bit more.Use 12pt. font1 inc margin on each sidesDouble spaceA few recommendations about research:There are few academic articles on Jarmush and Dead man. You might find more things online and in cinema blogs. If you do research, one avenue is to explore the genre of the Western and how Jarmush reinterprets the genre and why. One or two secondary sources will suffice. They do not have to be about Jarmush or the movie itself but can be about Westerns, Blake, The conquest of the West and its representation in the American psyche, etc. Please do your research before next session (on Tuesday) so we can address issues or questions together.