The Film Journal says,
Dead Man results in one of the most effective pairings of literary inspiration and contemporary filmmaker. William Blake and Jim Jarmusch, separated by over 200 years of history, met by chance and created the most original, effective and moving film of the 1990s.Slant Magazine gives it 4 stars and calls it "likely Jim Jarmusch's most stunning achievement." Spirituality & Practice concludes, "Blake's arduous journey toward death is a wonder to behold." Salon.com likes it and its music and explains why in lists. EW says, "the film's meandering quirkiness is, finally, a big bore". Roger Ebert gives it 1 1/2 stars and says, "a strange, slow, unrewarding movie that provides us with more time to think about its meaning than with meaning."