In the case of Dead Man, his unique Western, shot entirely in a beautiful black and white starring Johnny Depp we understand that he uses two popular elements of mainstream Cinema; the western genre and a popular name: Depp. We are in the presence of a great film, but the distance is taken with the use of the black and white. Jarmusch off beat and black humor gives a light touch to the heaviness of the film. The photography is clear and recalls the beautiful westerns of John Ford (see The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance).
The story of the Indian taking care of the reincarnated William Blake (Johnny Depp) is interesting and original. Although once again Jarmusch is working around a central concept and he manages to make an entire movie with it. You get the feeling that he is a true author and he never takes any compromise to attain his goal as a story teller. he builds his atmosphere around his central concept the whole thing is working really well.
Despite being pretentious, his films are really simple to follow and sometimes too simplistic in their content. Their rhythm are slow, if not off beat and they bring us as far as Jarmusch wants them to go.
Dead Man is a very enjoyable little film set in the Western genre but garmented with philosophical amplitudes.