Dead Man is a haunting tale about a man who leaves his familiar life in Cleveland behind to travel to a new frontier. Upon discovering that the job was already taken, William Blake wanders into town and meets a prostitute. After they sleep together, her ex-fiance finds them together and tries to kill William Blake. The prostitute, however, jumps in front of the bullet, killing her instantly. William Blake then kills her ex-fiance, starting his life as an outlaw. William Blake runs away from the town, befriending an Indian and increasing his death count. All the while, he is being pursued. When William Blake and the Indian, Nobody, reach the Indian village, Blake was shot by a man and is dying. The Indians decide to send William Blake away on a boat into his afterlife, while William watches Nobody shoot and be shot by their pursuer.
The death of William Blake is one necessary to the film. The film is entitled Dead Man and is about men pursuing Blake. In many Hollywood films, a predictable plot twist causes the protagonist to survive. Blake’s death, however, is necessary to the film. It adds a humbling outworldly presence of the film. Blake’s death gives a beauty to the film, because it gives the film a sense of reality, instead of an abstract Western. In most Hollywood films, the protagonist is always the winner, but the director’s choice to kill Blake gives the film a new depth.