Gary Farmer discusses the history of the American Western and his deep involvement with the film that challenged all of its mythologies. He’ll talk about working with Jim Jarmusch and the film’s enduring resonances, in this moment of rewriting America’s problematic history.
About DEAD MAN: Jim Jarmusch’s film features a stark portrayal of the American West: it’s a dirty, amoral and yet, at moments, absurdly funny wasteland, with lawless pioneers wreaking havoc. William Blake (Johnny Depp), an accountant, arrives and is immediately caught in a domestic fight. Catching a bullet, he is escorted through the gorgeously bleak landscapes (shot by the legendary Robby Muller) on a journey of discovery by Nobody (the great Gary Farmer), an indigenous philosopher who has become a man without a country. With music by Neil Young, this is a profound investigation of the mythologies that helped build America. (U.S., 2005, 129m)
Gary Farmer is an actor, musician, activist, artist, filmmaker and media visionary. He has received three Independent Spirit Award nominations, for POWWOW HIGHWAY, DEAD MAN and SMOKE SIGNALS, and is the founder of the Canada-wide Aboriginal Voices Radio Network. His career took flight in 1989 with two parts: in Tomson Highway’s seminal stage play Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, for which Gary was nominated a prestigious Dora Award, and POWWOW HIGHWAY, a hit independent film. Among his many other notable roles are film and television adaptations of Tony Hillerman’s novels, in Errol Morris’s 1991 film THE DARK WIND and in the PBS movies COYOTE WAITS and THIEF OF TIME; a supporting role in THE SCORE starring Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Ed Norton and Angela Bassett. His work with the band Gary Farmer and the Troublemakers includes two CDs, Love Songs and Other Issues and Lovesick Blues, for which he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Music Awards. He recorded the bestselling audiobook version of Louise Erdrich’s 2012 novel The Round House, winner of the 2012 National Book Award for Fiction.