Dead Man (1995): A Post Colonial Analysis
America the land of opulence and opportunity. A haven for glittering fantasies of stardom and fortune. Fast cars, fast food and fast affairs; Tight skirts and loose morals. The home to Hollywood. Where Beatniks and hipsters march alongside tuxedo wearing millionaires in their Maseratis. Birthplace of the atom bomb and perhaps the equally significant Coca cola. Doesn't matter which part of the world one lives in, everyone has a their own idea of what we call the 'New World'- or at least we like to believe it is our own idea. Of course we do occasionally formulate our view of the 'New World' from a few suggestions made by the media around us. But most of us have reasonable intelligence to dig out the truth for ourselves. In other words we can think by ourselves- think by ourselves. Yes, I am quite certain of it. I'd like to think of myself as a mature and intelligent person, who does not need to be spoon fed someone else's truth. Without doubt you would have a similar opinion of yourself. Except of course if the headlines on CNN read 'Woman denies affair with Tiger Woods', we must assume it is a matter of urgent importance. That is quite understandable. After all CNN is a reliable source. They did cover the David Beckham affair story quite thoroughly. As usual I'm drifting away from the point. The point here being that we have a reasonably good idea of America today, and a little knowledge of its history too. We have gathered some information from our history books and some from the westerns Hollywood churns out every few years. And what a fascinating history it is. We can all picture bawdy, rugged outlaws in their suede leather attire, riding their mustangs and firing their colt pistols in the sultry dessert air. And of course the mythical protagonist riding out of the dust to challenge them. History of America, correct? or wait, could it be...history of white man? Indie film maker Jim Jarmusch forays into American history with a different perspective, and a fresh take on the beloved western genre, in his film 'Dead Man'. When it comes to history separating the myths from the facts can be arduous and at times futile. Because historical narration is by virtue, biased with relation to ideology and cultural hegemony. That being said it is vital to uncover history from multiple perspectives, in particular that of suppressed cultures whose voice has been censored throughout history. What is more, the fact that the past plays an important role in moulding our present ideologies and worldview, makes the task even more imperative. This brings us to the study of post colonial literature. At first, the reading of a western written by a white American, as a post-colonial text may sound presumptuous and phony. However, in the following essay, I shall put forth my argument in favour of that, by bringing to light several key devices used by the writer, to turn the prevailing cultural stereotypes on their head. One of the key premise of the film revolves around themes that point towards the gradual capture of native American territory, the killing and displacement of the natives followed by measures to humiliate and deride the native American. Arguably, the United States may not be generally agreed upon as a post colonial nation, given the fact that the country was born out of a faction of the colonisers themselves. However the term Post Colonialism if viewed from a broader perspective concerns with analyzing the effects of colonisation (whether they be obvious or covert). Therefore one may say that the study of post colonialism begins with the beginning of colonisation and not necessarily after the colonisers have been evicted. Jens Martin Gurr proposes a similar argument in an essay by quoting Ashcroft (an important writer on post colonial theory) : ''I herby agree with Ashcroft, who in his 2001 study of Post-Colonial Transformations provides an acute survey of terminological problems –...
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