Johnny Depp played William Blake, not the poet, a Midwestern accountant tossed into the violent, wild west of Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man.
A challenging film, described as a "Psychedelic Western", shot fully in black and white and co-starring Gary Farmer with appearances by Billy Bob Thornton, Crispin Glover, Iggy Pop, John Hurt, Lance Henriksen, Michael Wincott and Robert Mitchum (in his final role). The strange film vividly and honestly captures the deadly world of the frontier and the hostile relationships between the white man and the Native American people--scored by droning, guitar improvisations by Neil Young
Depp, as Blake, travels by train to a frontier town called Machine to take on a bookkeeping job only to discover that the job has been filled and he is rushed out by the company owner. Jobless, with no money or prospects he jumps into bed with a former prostitute who dies protecting him from the gunshots of her ex-boyfriend--the wounded Blake quickly kills the assailant who turns out to be the son of the company boss who misled him. He makes off with a gun, a stolen horse, and a near fatal wound in his chest but not without a pursuit from three legendary frontier bounty hunters.
On his journey he befriends an American Indian called Nobody who tries but fails to remove the bullet lodged in his chest. The pair make their way west, encountering wanted signs offering higher and higher rewards, to commend Blake's soon to be dead body to the spirit world.