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Dennis Stock’s photos of James Dean appeared in Life Magazine in 1955 under the heading “Moody New Star”. LIFE by star photographer Anton Corbijn recreates the making of these images.


Photographer Dennis Stock’s photo series of James Dean, named “Moody New Star,” was featured in Life magazine in 1955 and includes some of the most famous celebrity photos of the 20th century, particularly the legendary image of Dean at Times Square. It is no wonder then that Anton Corbijn, being a famous celebrity photographer himself, is interested in Stock. Stock’s penchant for natural lighting and gritty photos have the casual air of the Beat Generation which, in 1955, heralded a new kind of visual aesthetic.

LIFE is a film about the origin of the photo series with Robert Pattinson as Dennis Stock and Dane DeHaan as James Dean. Stock is a young photographer who hopes to make it big with this series. Dean’s first film EAST OF EDEN is about to premiere and the young actor is not very interested in all the PR hubbub that the producers force him to do. Dean doesn’t take the photo shoot seriously, which is why there are only a few, quickly shot images. Corbijn sets up the scene in Times Square as an emergency solution: Dean is late and has no time, the weather is less than ideal, yet Stock takes a few shots since they are already there. Stock captures more intimate moments when he goes with Dean to his family’s farm in Indiana. Corbijn goes through the exact stages of the photo series and also shows how the worst photo came to be: Dean in the middle of a herd of cows, banging a bongo drum. Dean think it is silly, and indeed it is, but the celebrity glamour is not entirely absent. This is also the case on Corbijn’s own work, like when he photographed the hitchhiking Björk with a teddy bear in her arms.

Hannes Stein

Translation: Elinor Lewy


USA/ Großbritannien/ Kanada/ Deutschland / Australien 2015, 112 min
Genre: Drama
Director: Anton Corbijn
Author: Luke Davies
DOP: Charlotte Bruus Christensen
Montage: Nick Fenton
Distributor: Universum Film/SquareOne Entertainment
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Robert Pattinson, Joel Edgerton, Dane DeHaan, Kristen Hager, Alessandra Mastronardi, Kelly McCreary, Sara Waisglass
Release: 24.09.2015


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