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James Dean: Forever Young (2005)

Documentary of the brief but memorable career of the now iconic James Dean. Narrated by Martin Sheen, the film focuses much attention on his early work for television, and utilizes a ... See full summary »
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Documentary of the brief but memorable career of the now iconic James Dean. Narrated by Martin Sheen, the film focuses much attention on his early work for television, and utilizes a variety of archival footage in order to tell the story of the young man who gained immortality with only three feature films to his credit. Written by filmfactsman

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20 May 2005 (France)  »

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James Dean - Por siempre joven  »

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Featured in American Masters: James Dean: Sense Memories (2005) See more »

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Frozen in time
9 December 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"James Dean: Forever Young" is a look at the actor, focusing a lot on the pre-Hollywood television years. There is lots of rare footage, plus the famous Newman-Dean screen test for "East of Eden", which I had seen on the A&E bio of Paul Newman.

I know James Dean's story very well, but you wouldn't think I knew it at all from my reaction. When narrator Martin Sheen says, "In 1953..." and introduced another television show, I thought, "Gee, it's 1953. He died in 1955. When is he going to Hollywood?" The entire time, I kept thinking, he died before his 25th birthday? As if I didn't know that. Somehow, seeing this gifted, beautiful, vital man in action, it was harder to comprehend. Even harder to comprehend than that is that he was a contemporary of Martin Landau's. Think of Dean today, at 79. What might have been? I didn't really like Martin Sheen's narration. I found it intrusive and (this isn't his fault) it was like a resume. There wasn't footage on ALL of the TV shows, yet he talked about every one of them. Believe me, they could have skipped some. The narration also made the same stupid mistake that we hear over and over again: "He only made three films." Why does that drive me so crazy? He only STARRED in three films. He MADE more than three.

The Hollywood part was fascinating. And the photos. Boy did the camera worship this man. He was born for the movies. This is well worth seeing for the photo shoots and footage of Dean off the set. There are no interviews with friends and coworkers, which is okay too. He speaks for himself.

I read some complaints about the music. I had no problem with it. It wasn't '50s music but it fit the subject matter.

As this was coproduced by Dean's nephew Marcus Winslow, the documentary emphasizes his interest in women. Like all classic stars, there are lots of rumors about his sexuality. Also, he was supposedly obsessed with Marlon Brando and emulated him in every way possible - this also wasn't covered.

What is covered is that James Dean was an unusual person, possibly not as eccentric as he portrayed himself, but nevertheless a passionate and talented person, extremely magnetic and sexy. A true icon.

Dean's love for fast cars and racing - at that age, I'm sure he felt immortal. And guess what, in a way, he was.

Don't miss this one despite a few flaws.


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