View of a Scene: Dead Man


In which we discuss a deleted scene from the Jim Jarmusch movie Dead Man...

Here is the scene:

Conway Twill: Anyhow, getting back to the beginning of the story, my grandaddy came over from Scotland, you see, he was actually part of the Muttwill clan, I believe the clan tartan was a kind of a gold and purple if I remember correctly, never wore one myself. Dropped the mutt part of the name when he came out west on account of he figured it'd getting him more work and all. Well, he sure was a lovely gentlemen, our grandaddy. Hey, how bout your family there, Cole? Lemme guess. Kinda figured you for a German? I mean, amiright? Am I close? Austrian?
I mean it's all about stillness and motion, I mean, in the end. Stillness being a woman thing, you know? I dunno, motion being about us. Goddamnit, the hell do we know in the end anyway? All that moving about. Christ, it's all just about a home really. Stillness to you of course is never ever opening your mouth. Course, what the hell would you know about women anyway. I mean, a woman. You know what I mean, Cole.
Cole Wilson: All your jawing is making me lose my will to live.
Conway: Well, son, you are a funny one .You actually gonna try to convince me that the difference between your wanting to stay on this planet or beneath it is my talking? You best take stock of yourself, son. Huh. I mean, you were someone's son once, weren't ya? Your poor old father. God almighty. I don't know if you've been told this before but, Jesus, your insides are a little low on temperature. Ain't they. I remember the coldest damn winters, my whole body freezing up, fingers couldn't even move 'em. Funny. I just think about Christmas. Well, that's me. That's me. Fireplace. Someone waiting for you. Winters can be cold, Wilson. I remember lots of 'em. Yeah, the smell of someone familiar. The sound of something other than your own damn shadow. It warms the fire--
Cole: Don't walk away from me.
{Cole shoots Conway}
Conway: Jesus.
She had the longest thighs I ever did see. How I did her. Tell you or the boys to not touch me.
Cole: Shut up!
Conway: And I come out again. I guess I been living there ever since.
Cole: Shut up.
Conway: Right there in your fingers.
Cole: Shut up!
Conway: That boys the only forgiveness you're ever gonna need.
Cole: Shut up!
Here, eat 'em.
Cole: I'll bet that under all that horseshit that you call a brain, you thought there was a pony, didn't ya?
Conway: Wilson. I can see your heart.
{Cole shoots Conway dead}
- - - - - -
Conway Twill is a talker. Cole Wilson is not. They end up as the last two men tracking down the murderer of businessman John Dickinson's son. It's a classic cinema odd couple pairing. The loquacious and the mute.
Conway begins literally continuing his life story, rambling on about his family's origins, as chatterboxes are wont to do. He mentions the name change upon his family's immigration, which is a neat little off-hand comment about escaping the past, changing into a new person, having to adapt to surroundings, which are themes in the movie.
He then pesters Cole about his background, to no avail, but then broaches the subject of woman and man.
He says that men are restless and transient, while women are more stationary and want to live in one place. As a bounty hunter/killer, he's obviously projecting his own experiences, but it's a rather sexist belief that has been held for years and, sadly, still is by many. Men go out and work/move, while women remain at home, performing a housewife's duties.
Conway then mentions Cole doesn't know anything about women. Now I don't know if Conway was thinking straight here when he said this, knowing of Cole's apparent history of parricide. I know if I were out alone with a man who had allegedly killed and eaten his own goddamn parents, I would not talk raise the subjects of men, women and family.
But it gets a rise from Cole, who finally speaks and expresses his displeasure with Conway's endless chatter.
Conway, finally getting Cole to emote, continues on his dangerous talk of family, getting a bit aggressive as Cole basically tells him to shut up.
He questions if Cole even comprehends being a son and gets a bit biblical, another theme in the movie. Cole, representing the devil character, has been cast out of heaven and is now evil. Does he remember his father almighty God?
This gets a physical reaction from Cole, as he winces and turns towards Conway.
Conway then pivots and gets introspective, small parts of his life being recalled. His life is audibly flashing before his eyes. Bad things are coming as Conway moves away from Cole, teddy bear in hand, talking of home and a woman. Warmth, familiarity, being still, maybe even love.
Then Cole, almost enraged by Conway's endless babble and his trying to get him to remember any semblance of peacefulness, shoots him square in the back.
Conway, tough old bastard that he is, doesn't go easy. He falls, but continues flashing back.
First, to what sounds like an experience with a prostitute, possibly, it is fairly hard to make out what he is saying at times, and as there is no script for this, I had to transcribe from YouTube and it's subpar closed captioning system.
Second, to what I take to be the murder of their young companion Johnny, who Cole killed earlier in the movie after an argument.
I can't make heads-or-tails of what the pony comment means but it's perfectly delivered with snide arrogance and condescension.
Conway is clearly in shock as Cole's seventh bullet ends his life. He says he can see Cole's heart, which makes a bit of sense, as Cole has no heart at all.
To end the scene, Cole then proceeds to grin and shoot Conway's teddy bear. The guy truly is an nasty son of a bitch.
And continuing to grin, he flips his gun, grabs the bag from the ground and continues on his evil way, finally solo, free of Conway's blathering.

A. The very next scene, which was in the movie, shows Cole sitting by the fire, eating a human hand. It's a short scene, with Cole muttering and spitting out some meat that gets stuck in his teeth. So the rumors were true, Cole is definitely confirmed to be a cannibal. When watching the movie, the killing of Conway does feel rather incomplete. They ride into the forest, you hear a shot then it cuts to the Cole eating scene.
B. I still find it a bit odd that the Cole killing Johnny scene was left in, but this was left offscreen. Johnny gets a quick death, while Conway takes a while. Maybe Cole really wanted Conway to feel it, for the torture Conway put him through with his endless gabbing. Mind you, the Johnny death scene is no picnic, either. All things considered, I think having both scenes in the movie would have really driven home what a mean bastard Cole really is. Maybe a few less shots required to kill poor Conway.
C. The scene almost makes the Cole Wilson character too villainous, too evil, possibly a bit cartoonish. It also comes off a bit stereotypical. Many movies have a character that refuses to die, a “tough guy” that just will not stay down.
D. The lighting in this scene is also just so stellar. The sun cuts through the trees and shadows fall over Conway as he lays dying.
E. According to Jarmusch, the actor playing Conway Twill, Michael Wincott, was doing 100% improv on this film which is super impressive. This scene in particular, there is such a natural way in which he speaks, I can't imagine anyone writing such flowing dialog for a script.
Here is a video I found very entertaining and informative with Jarmusch discussing Dead Man:



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