Jarmuschian Emancipation

It was around ten years ago that a friend of mine lent me his copy of “Dead Man”. I fell in love with it. I watched over and over again in different moods and occasions. It triggered my fascination for Jim Jarmusch’s cinema. I watched almost all of his movies and I’m always on the watch for his latest films.

I’m not, however, very knowledgeable when it comes to cinematic techniques and so my preference in movies are not very technical. I mainly judge movies based on the stories, the way they are told and messages they convey. Maybe this is the reason why the movies of Jarmusch that I like the most are not well-received by major festivals like Cannes (Of course we cannot talk about the Academy. He is not the type)*. Those films, in the order of my preference and coincidentally in the chronological order, are:

Dead Man

Ghost Dog

Limits of Control

Only Lovers Left Alive

I seriously think that these movies are made to depict his personal concerns about the human condition in contemporary times. They all contain a subtle sense of nostalgia for an uncertain past. Although almost all of his movies show, to various extents, his concerns about humanity (for example Coffee and Cigarettes which deals with the fact that we all have difficulty interacting and connecting with other fellow human beings), the role of his ideology is much more obvious in those specific films. In all of them, in my opinion, Jarmusch tries to show the path to emancipation which, for him, apparently, goes through art, history and science as opposed to machines, power, money and commerce.

Initially, I wanted to talk about all of those films at the same time in this post. But when I actually started gathering material and began writing, I found out that each deserves to be devoted its own space. Discussing all would make the post too long and practically unreadable. So I will write about each in a separate post in the following weeks and activate their links in the list above.

*Although, the fact that some great critics like Jonathan Rosenbaum share my taste (especially on Dead Man) has given me huge hope

5 thoughts on “Jarmuschian Emancipation

  1. Yes, Dead Man and Ghost Dog, we own both of those. Don’t know the other two, but will now look out for them. As to the Dead Man and Ghost Dog, these are extraordinary films – not met with ‘critical’ acclaim doubtless because they do not espouse cultures and thought processes predominantly driven by shopping.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. What a very richly written article – from Blake’s London poem to the Burroughs’ quote. And esp this para: ” In a way, Dead Man grows out of a horrified view of industrialized America compatible with the apocalyptic visions of both Blake and Burroughs, superimposed over an image of the American west haunted by the massive slaughter of Native Americans. And because it confounds much of our mythology about the western–reversing some of its philosophical presuppositions by associating a westward journey with death rather than rebirth, for example, and with pessimism rather than hope–a fair number of Americans aren’t ready for it. Dead Man implicitly rejects the current staples of commercial filmmaking–the feel-good slaughterfests of Woo and Tarantino, the affectless formalism and callow merchandising of MTV, the plot-driven buddy movie–choosing instead to meditate on the relation of death to the natural world. One key occurrence in the movie is the eerie, poetic, mystical moment when Blake, lost and alone in the wilderness, curls up alongside an accidentally slain fawn. ” Thanks for the link.


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