“Success was nothing more than the concealing leaf which covered the tree of his loneliness.”
Directors Robert Altman and George W. George chronicle the tragically brief life of movie star James Dean.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Actors and Actresses
- Robert Altman Films
Released just two years after Dean’s death, this unusual documentary is notable as one of Robert Altman’s first feature films, and for its use of a new “photo motion” technique which allowed Altman and George to incorporate numerous still photographs of Dean into the film’s narrative arc. The result is an undeniably adulatory yet surprisingly affecting look at Dean’s brief Hollywood career, one which examines his mystique as a brooding, introspective “rebel” by exploring the influences of his humble background as a semi-orphan on an Indiana farm. Martin Gabel’s solemn narration is often laughably corny (see quote above), but somehow fits within the sensibility of this poetic ’50s homage — it may not offer a fully balanced view of Dean’s life, but does provide an informative reflection on his enduring resonance with disaffected youth, and will almost certainly be of interest to film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- A truly heartfelt homage to Dean
- Effective use of Louis Clyde Stoumen’s “photo motion” technique to incorporate archival photographs into a documentary film
Yes, for its cinematic interest.