Only the best films create mood, and this is one of the best of those. There are some superb moments, stunning music, and of course, loads of mystical meaning.
Here is a quick key: The train journey is a metaphor for the passage of Blake's life as well as the passage of man into the dubious morality of the machine age.
The coal-stoker on the train seems aware of Blake's destiny and shows that this is not just any train.
We might take Blake as an incarnation of the real poet William Blake. The coal-stoker's obscure reference to the ship might indicate a passage across the sea he assumed Blake made (from England).
The shooting of the buffalo from the train (huh?) shows man's senseless destruction of nature.
The hellish machinery of the train is shown taking Blake towards Machine, the crossroads of man's conscience and a place already turned into a kind of hell.
The girl's paper flowers show how even pretty things have degenerated into a soulless artificial state, but is also a sign of hope. She hopes to have real flowers one day - a sign that she has a good soul.
After Blake collapses in the street there is a rather large shooting star, presumably to indicate that his soul had left him (Jarmusch is being coy if denies this blatant indication that Blake has "passed on"). In fact, the best interpretation is that he is not quite dead, but dying, comatose: that enables the film to work equally well on two levels.
Here's the key thing: the real poet William Blake had visions and wrote a book called "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" (geddit?). This book is written in a weird style that sounds quite like Indian-speak. In fact, several of Nobody's lines are taken straight from the this book such as "The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow". Ironically, in the film, Blake does not understand any of what Nobody is saying and calls it "Indian malarkey".
We can take Nobody for a bit foolish in a real-world sense, but in the spiritual world we must assume he knows what he is talking about. When he asks Blake "did you kill the man who killed you?" and Blake answers "I'm not dead", we can assume that Nobody's knows something Blake doesn't.
In a scene cut from the final film, Nobody says that he saw a bluebird drinking the blood from Blake's wound. This obviously showed Nobody that Blake's soul was worth saving - otherwise it would have been a vulture, not a bluebird, on his chest.
Nobody = "no body". A further indication that he is of the spiritual world.
Nobody and Cole (black as coal) are good and evil angels fighting it out for Blake's soul. They are each more or less indestructible, except that like good and evil themselves they can cancel each other out, as they do at the end.
Everyone met along the way shows various types of human fallibility or degeneracy and each comes to a bad end, weeded out in the purgatorial process.
The dead deer represents the woman he met in Machine, and bears the same wound. The embracing of the deer is Christian-type imagery, providing some indication of the good, redeeming side of Blake's character.
During his "trials" (Nobody gives him the odd test) Blake shows both good and bad aspects to his character, and so at the end we can assume he drifts off into neither heaven nor hell, but in limbo.
There's surely more. For example, the sheriff's head (that Cole crushes under his boot) is an exact replica of Lenin - implying that communism is more evil than Evil. And I was interested to see one reviewer mention that the name of the bar in Machine has some relation to the death of Stalin's wife.
No doubt the film is worth more than one viewing. However you look at it, it's a terrific creation.
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