James Dean at Times Square


Poster for Life, the 2015 movie directed by Anton Corbijn

Life is a new biographical movie based on the friendship of Life magazine photographer Dennis Stock and Hollywood actor James Dean. It stars Robert Pattinson as Stock and Dane DeHaan as Dean and film was directed by Anton Corbijn who is himself a well known still photographer.

Dennis Stock was a noted Magnum photographer during the 1950s and 60s, best known for his iconic Times Square photo of Dean as Beat Generation anti-hero. The poster shows Dean and Stock walking side by side, with the letters IF isolated from the film title. This may refer to the ‘if’ of Dean’s future acting career, had he lived. He was killed in a car accident at age 24 a few months after the photo was taken.


Screenshot from trailer of Life, 2015


Dennis Stock, James Dean at Times Square, print from the Magnum archive.

Stock seems to have under-exposed his photo, you can see how black the shadows are. Look at the print below with Magnum’s darkroom printer Pablo Inirio‘s burning and dodging notations. It takes a lot to turn a mere shot into an icon.


Photograph by Dennis Stock with printing annotations by Pablo Inirio

The movie has opened in Europe in to positive reviews, and will open in the US in December. No newas yet of an Australian release date.


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