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Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

The Last Samouraï — Written by lezard on 07.01.2022

When Ghost Dog was released in 1999, Jim Jarmusch had already shot 6 fiction movies and a documentary. From the start he had a very distinctive style.

A few guidelines :
Unusual characters, loners and mavericks.
Unforgettable soundtracks.
A fantastic, almost anachronistic, use of black and white
A laid back rythm.
An off-beat, often irresistible, humour.

With Ghost Dog, Jarmusch tackles a new genre, film moir, and paradoxically uses color.
A hitman, Forest Whitaker, aka Ghost Dog, is an adept of the samourais' code of honor. He is devoted to a mafiosi because this one once saved his life. After a contract, which goes wrong, he becomes the mob's target.
This is a movie about transfer, about the confrontation between the ancient and the modern, about the consciousness of history. As such it will please the movie buffs through the numerous references to many classics (Kurosawa, Kazan, Suzuki for instance), but don't worry ! If you don't know the classics your pleasure won't be lessened. Whether you spot them or not these references are part of the main theme: memory and tradition.
No modernity is possible without the knowledge of the past. Those (the wisemen) who treat the blacks, the Indians as primitives are so ignorant and stupid that it's a great source of fun.
Forest Whitaker is great. Like many of Jarmusch « heroes », he drifts, most of the time silent, on a great urban soundtrack composed by RZA. As a swinging shadow, wearing hoodies or suits he is a creature of the night and melts in the shade.
Solitary by character, outsider by necessity he seldom befriends people, except excentrics like him.
A great moment of fun, intelligence and emotion.
This movie confirms the Jarmusch's touch : elegance and delicacy.

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