• Like all of Jarmusch’s work- a heavy formal achievement—here the main feats are the dissolve edits (largely in the first 30 minutes), Rza’s score, and the meditative readings (through title card breaks)—the pairing of all of these with the stoic performance by Forest Whitaker and the use of pigeons as a reoccurring motif
formal mastery from Jarmusch
  • Whitaker is on screen almost the entire time but doesn’t have any diegetic dialogue (he does some voice over) until 35+ minutes into the film
  • Rza’s score echoes Neil Young’s in Dead Man– repetitive (which fits Jarmusch’s formal renderings of his works) and incredible
  • We get the pigeon in the sky and the trains (Ozu) to open. A series of dissolves—he doesn’t go to the elliptical fade to black between scenes (ala Stranger in Paradise) here—it’s very heavy in the dissolve edit—a perfect choice for the character and material—we even get a dissolve edit trio of Whitaker walking across the street with no action or change—we get one of the dissolves actually moving backward in camera length later
reoccurring visual motif
  • Graffiti on the street
  • The text makes references to many eastern influences of course- we get the book Rashoman,
  • Dream-like—Ghost Dog gets a note that says “urgent” and he takes a nap. One of the readings in the title/text card is about living as a dream
  • Hilarious in parts—two Italian guys making fun of “Indians” and rappers for having weird names and then asks for a colleague “Sammy the Snake”- haha
  • Fish out of water tale- Ghost Dog is a samurai living in modern times
Jarmusch would go back to the park bench again in Paterson
  • Gary Famer here again playing “Nobody” repeating his “stupid f*cking white man” line from Dead Man– these films can been seen as pairs. Both solo protagonists, not broken up by clear structure sections like his films from 1984-1991, Jarmusch’s western film and samurai film – like Dead Man we get the protagonist upset by dead animals- here a black bear and dead pigeon (this shot is a near duplicate of the fawn shot in Dead Man)
a near match with the fawn shot in Dead Man
  • If we didn’t already have one with the samurai code in modern times we get another fish out of water with Isaach De Bankolé speaking only French as they can understand each other without the same language
  • Formal visual motif- pigeon in the sky again and again— the obsession with cartoons
  • The first 30 minutes with the dissolves had the makings of a masterpiece, the mechanisms of the plot take over a little but still a strong effort
luminous dissolves– a triumph of editing
  • HR