James Dean (1976)

james deanJames Dean (1976)

Directed by: Robert Butler

Starring: Michael BrandonStephen McHattieBrooke Adams


The biopic is a genre of film I’ve never really gotten into. Especially when we’re talking about the life story of an actor, who’s very job definition means that the most interesting things they will ever be involved in are fake people they are portraying in movies or plays or whatever. I guess it’s all just part of that weird idolization that comes with being famous; people see actors in movies where they portray remarkable people, and start to believe that the actors themselves are remarkable beyond the point that they seem to project… because they’re all actually just normal people. Normal people with a high-visibility job.

James Dean’s life involves him trying to be an actor, and then succeeding, and then dying. I think there’s some romantic drama involved too, I honestly don’t remember.

James Dean wasn’t even that remarkable of an actor, he just died at a very young age. While that sounds like it could make for a compelling drama, to really make a death meaningful and worthwhile in a story, the life has to be equally compelling. For real people, that just doesn’t happen, which means to make a film adaptation of that you’ll have to make a bunch of shit up. And if you do that… well, it’s not really a movie about that person, is it? It’s a story about the idealized character vaguely based off that person. Once you get to that point we’re just talking about fiction, and really why limit yourself to vaguely being about a real person’s life? All it does is give your story unnecessary limits and ultimately makes the whole thing suffer. But it’s a name that people recognize, so I guess that’s enough of a reason to do it, because you can capitalize on the already fucked up hero worship given to actors. I’m feeling kinda negative about this whole concept, if you can’t tell.

About Reid

Born in a dumpster, died in a fire. View all posts by Reid

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