James Dean – alias Jim Stark – crouching on the roadside, giggling childishly into himself. James Dean – alias Cal – lying in a corn field watching the fruit grow. James Dean – alias James Dean – the collar of his coat turned up in New York: Images which have collaborated on building a myth – the image of eternal and misunderstood youth. Unlike Marlon Brando, the proletarian rebel with identifiable goals, James Dean was the timeless and androgynous youthful rebel. His death on the Interstate 46 leads us back to 1950s America, a time when youth was re-interpreted all anew.
The USA was looking for its profile: While the McCarthy-hysteria was reactivating the tough patriar-chal America, the internal social fabric was determining its course for “Big Mama“. All of this followed a general “psychologicalisation” of all spheres of life: Authenticity, truth and rebellion turned into values attributed to youth and also revolutionised the Hollywood studios. James Dean played himself – but like no one else before he also produced himself. It was through this that he was turned into an icon of a media created youth culture, the shadow of which is still hanging over us today.
Excerpts of James Dean’s three films, behind the scenes footage, archive from 1950s America and original photos will merge with the newly shot material tracking the phenomenon James Dean in present day New York, Fairmount and California.