Dead Man Response

12 Dec

Dead Man

                The story revolves around William Blake who travels west for a new employment opportunity.  The job does not pan out and he finds himself caught in a love triangle with a prostitute and her ex-boyfriend.  Although Blake is the only surviving member of the triangle, he is mortally wounded with a bullet lodged close to his heart.  Throughout the movie, Blake is dying a slow death – his days are numbered.  A bounty is placed on his head for the slayings and he retreats to the wilderness with Nobody, a Native American.  Nobody believes Blake to be the reincarnation of the late poet, William Blake.  The two embark on a journey west to save Blake’s soul.  Along the way, they kill several people and Blake experiences a vision quest. In the end, Blake dies with little fanfare shortly after witnessing Nobody’s murder.

What story does Dead Man tell about manifest destiny and the “civilizing” of the American West?

                Manifest Destiny refers to the belief that the uncharted lands of the American West were subject to white expansion, regardless of the native persons that resided there.  This patriotic notion that all land should naturally belong to whites and the struggle it creates forms the basis of this film.  Whites believed they were taming the west, but instead of civilizing the area, they merely changed who lived there.  They seized the land, killing whoever lived there.  One might argue that this was not civilizing the west at all, just taking control and in many respects making the land far less civilized than it had been before.  Iggy Pop discussed transitions of power in his most famous scene from the movie when he references Emperor Nero of Ancient Rome and his exploits against the Christians.  Was this civilization or greed? 

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One Response to “Dead Man Response”

  1. lordbyrne December 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    10/10. JB.

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